Of the eight provinces in Vietnam’s Red River Delta, Nam Dinh Province is one of the region’s most important. A historical gem and boasting strong economies in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, the province is beginning to expand its tourist sector. Frequently forgotten, many tourists head to the region’s more popular destinations, leaving Nam Dinh unexplored.
With the potential to become a hotspot for eco-tourism, water sport enthusiasts, and luxury getaways, Nam Dinh is guaranteed to emerge as one of the best holiday destinations outside of Hanoi.
How to Get to Nam Dinh Province
The Nam Dinh Province covers about 1,669 sq km (644 sq mi) of land in the southern portion of Vietnam’s Red River Delta Region. Meeting the sea, the province has a coastline that stretches for 74 km (46 mi). Featuring three topographical regions, Nam Dinh can be divided into a low-lying delta, lowland coastal, and central region.
Also included in the landscape are four major estuaries, which have become crucial habitats for migratory waterbirds. Though Nam Dinh is in the far south area of the Red River Delta, the province is still only 84.4 km (52.5 mi) from Hanoi. Travelers can make the journey between the country’s capital city and the Nam Dinh Province in just under 1 and ½ hours by road.
Private cars and public buses are the most popular ways to travel between the two destinations. However, there are also a few train routes that can take you outside of Hanoi and to the coast of Nam Dinh too.
Before Vietnam’s dynasties and modern eras, primitive people from the Neolithic and Bronze ages began to develop livestock and agriculture in the Nam Dinh Province. Evidence of these early people and their communities has been found by archeologists in the form of stone tools like pestles and axes.
As dynasties began to develop in Vietnam, the Nam Dinh Province was ruled by the Hung Kings, and it had four districts and one city. However, by 111 BC, Nothern Vietnam was invaded by China’s Tay Han Dynasty. The wet landscape was favored for growing rice, and this started the province’s domination in the agricultural sector.
After 1,000 years of colonization by China, Vietnam began to independently rule. Previously called Son Nam during the Lê Dynasty, Nam Dinh, an economic center for the Red River Delta, was renamed in 1822. While the name hasn’t changed, districts within the province have shifted.
For Vietnamese nationals, Nam Dinh Province is famous for being the birthplace of notable historical figures. The most significant of them all was Trân Hung Dao, who was a grand prince and military commander of Vietnam. Trân Hung Dao became a national hero after he defeated the invading Mongols during the 13th century.
On an international scale, Nam Dinh is best known for being the birthplace of the Vietnamese soup and noodle dish, pho.
- Nam Dinh is the 12th most populous province in Vietnam.
- As of 2019, an estimated 2,150,215 people live in the Nam Dinh Province.
- Nam Dinh Province is subdivided into 9 districts, 1 provincial capital, 15 towns, 194 communes, and 20 wards.
About 90 km (56 mi) to the southeast of Hanoi is the provincial capital, which bears the same name, Nam Dinh. Oftentimes called Nam Dinh City to differentiate it from the province, the city is a hub for tourists. As the largest urban area in the province, it’s frequently used as a home base for tourists who are traveling throughout the region.
Many parts of the city are industrial, however, there are historic and tourist sections. Tourism in Nam Dinh City is developed and there are various attractions ranging from historic sites to quiet temples, museums, and parks. There are also attractions along the coast and in wetland areas.
In Nam Dinh, the top attractions include the Cô Trach Temple, Pho Minh Pagoda, Nam Dinh Museum, Nam Dinh Flag Tower, and the Vi Xuyen Lake. For travelers who are staying overnight in the city, there are numerous quality hotels and resorts available for short or long-term stays.
Prices per night can vary greatly between accommodations, so travelers will be able to choose the location that fits their budget. The best accommodation options in Nam Dinh City are the Sojo Hotel Nam Dinh, Nam Cuong Hotel, Malisa Hotel, Hoang Gia II Hotel, and the Wiltons Hotel.
Famous as being the birthplace of pho, many restaurants in Nam Dinh serve this traditional noodle soup dish in a variety of ways. Visitors can try pho with a selection of prime meats or keep it vegetarian. In addition to pho, popular dishes in Nam Dinh City include banh gai, banh nhan, bun dau, and balan bread.
To try any of these tasty meals, tourists should check out the city’s best restaurants. Lâu Nâm Duong Bao, K-Pub, Wanchai Nam Dinh, and Pho Dán are establishments that have the highest reviews in Nam Dinh City.
Famous Places in Nam Dinh
Apart from Nam Dinh City, most of the destinations in the province are rural districts, towns, and communes. While much of the land in the province has been developed for various industries like agriculture, there is ample open space that could be developed for tourism.
Tuc Mac Village
A remote community 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the city, Tuc Mac Village is a historic and religious destination where tourists can learn more about the ancient history of the province. The Tran Kings used to rule over the area and standing remnants include the Pho Minh Pagoda and Tran Royal Remains. In recent history, the village is famous for being the hometown of Trân Hung Dao.
Truc Ninh District
Another historic destination in the Nam Dinh Province is the Truc Ninh District, which is home to the Co Le Townlet, an ancient pagoda that was built during Vietnam’s Lê Dynasty. Founded by Nguyen Minh Khong, a Buddhist Monk, the Co Le Pagoda boasts an ornate tower and expansive gardens. From Nam Dinh City, the Truc Ninh District is only 45 minutes by car.
Vu Ban District
Vu Ban District is famous for Kim Thai Commune, where tourists and locals gather at the Phu Day Relic. A cultural site with 20 relics dedicated to the Lieu Hanh, an immortal goddess in Vietnamese folklore, the Phu Day Relic is a beautiful destination. Making up the center of the commune, the relic site hosts numerous festivals throughout the year.
Nam Dinh is a remote province, but there are many attractions available to fill tourist itineraries. From historic sites to natural wonders, the province is a hidden gem in Northern Vietnam. Attractions in the province that are both in and out of the capital city include the Xuân Thuy National Park, Thinh Long Beach, Vieng Market, and Phu Nhai Basilica.
Phu Nhai Basilica
Outside of Nam Dinh City and located in the Xuan Phuong Commune, one of the most stunning pieces of architecture is the Phu Nhai Roman Catholic Church. In 1866, the church was originally built with wood, but over the years it has been restored several times. Finished in a western style with European influence, the basilica impresses with its Gothic architecture and grand size.
Thinh Long Beach
Just one hour outside of Nam Dinh City, Thinh Long Beach provides a weekend escape from urban crowds. Most popular during the warmer months, the beach sits at the point where the Red River flows into the sea. The water’s high salinity is said to treat various ailments. A small community of fishing villages is nearby and there are a few local accommodations available as well.
Hosted in the Nam Truc and Vu Ban Districts, the open-air Vieng Market is held during the spring months. The market falls just after the Tet holiday, and it is a time where locals can display their handmade products, antiquities, and ornamental goods. The market is not only a place for buying but also a time for locals to celebrate the New Year by exchanging goods.
Xuân Thuy National Park
A vast landscape spread over 30,000 acres, Xuân Thuy National Park is the first wetland area in Vietnam and Southeast Asia to be named as a Ramsar site. Located on the coast, the national park is a hotspot for birdwatchers as several migratory aviary species use it to nest and raise their young. Tourists can take a solo or guided tour by hiking or boat.
Xuân Thuy sees peaks of tourists throughout the year as different species thrive in the park depending on whether it is the wet or dry season.
Throughout Nam Dinh Province, festivals like the Tran Temple Festival, Kite Festival, and Phuy Gia Festival are held to honor Vietnamese traditional culture. The Tran Temple Festival is held at the Tran Complex outside of Nam Dinh City and is one of the most famous in the province. In mid-August, the complex hosts a grand festival to honor the Tran Kings and Trân Hung Dao.
The festival is held for one week starting on the 15th day of August on the Vietnamese lunar calendar. The complex, which consists of three temples, comes to life as locals and tourists gather for ceremonies. During the festival, activities include martial arts performances, lion dancing, and balance bridge walking.
Created and first hosted in July of 2020, the Kite Festival is the province’s newest celebration. An opportunity for kite clubs to gather, people gather from all over the country to show off their flying skills and beautiful kites. Participants are graded on their kite designs and flying abilities. Visitors are encouraged to observe the competitions, as well as enjoy the various kite designs.
Lastly, Phu Giay Festival occurs in Vu Ban District and occurs on the first to the tenth day of the third lunar month. The event celebrates Lieu Hanh, the Goddess or “Holy Mother” of Vietnam. With the goal of preserving the country’s cultural and spiritual values, the main takes place on the third day while there is a procession on the sixth day.
The Nam Dinh Province has a humid subtropical climate, which guarantees that the weather is warm throughout the year. The months of January and February are the coldest, meanwhile, July is typically the hottest. Tourism in the province fluctuates throughout the year, however, the summer months are still popular for visitors who are heading to the coast in Nam Dinh.
During the winter, major holidays draw crowds of people who are eager to celebrate at the area’s various churches and pagodas. For tourists who want to avoid the rain, the best time to visit Nam Dinh is from November to April. More humid and wet, the rainy season in Nam Dinh falls from May to October.
As an out-of-the-ordinary destination, the Nam Dinh Province is on the verge of becoming a tourist hotspot in Northern Vietnam. With a blend of developed cities and remote landscapes, historic marvels, and cultural wonders, the Nam Dinh is ideal for adventure travelers who are looking to discover all that Vietnam has to offer.
Activities near Nam Dinh Province
- Hai Duong City (101km)
- Hai Phong (106km)
- Hanoi (109km)
- Ninh Binh City (48km)
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