Experience the beauty of innocence and youth in Nghe An, a land for the many primitive groups and authentic attractions. Nghe An lies at the very center of Vietnam, and serves as the province that links the north and the south. At its west is the Laos borders. On its east, the South China Sea. Regardless of its geography, Nghe An is also considered as the center of culture of the country. In your stay they, understand how rich Nghe An is both through its people and destinations.
How to Get There
Nghe An is in Central Vietnam, so there are a lot of means of to get you there. I listed three (3) of the ways I know and ranked them according to convenience and speed. See which suits your budget and your liking.
1) By plane
If you want to get there fast while feeling secure and comfortable, consider riding a plane. Hanoi Airport has flights straight to Vinh, a prosperous city of Nghe An. Travel will only take you 50 minutes, the fastest ride you can get. In addition, price only cost about 31 USD (or around 720,000 VND) for an economy class.
On the other hand, if you are in Ho Chi Minh, you can have about 1h 50m trip to Vihn. Cost is almost the same for a one-way trip in an economy class. There are different airlines (Bamboo Airways, VietJet Air, Vietnam Airlines, Jetsrar) to choose from, and some are really cheaper than the rest.
2) By coach or bus
If slightly on a budget but still wants to have a peaceful drive, then maybe getting on a coach or train is the best for you. Travel takes longer, about 6 hours, but you can sit in a comfortable chair without paying much. Local coach or bus departs Hanoi every hour, so it would not be difficult to catch a coach/bus. In fact, you can look at any of these bus stations for a ride to Vihn: My Dinh, Giap Bat, and Nuoc Ngam. To avail, you have to purchase a ticket. Price ranges from 11 USD to 17 USD (250,000 to 400,000 VND) per head.
But if you break the travel time, it’s practical to stop by Thanh Hoa first and see the sights. It’s only 4 hours away from Hanoi, but the places are a must-see. From there, you can just ride on a bus, which is the cheapest means of transportation. It only costs around 5 to 6 USD (116,000 to 140,000 VND) and duration is approximately 3 hours.
3) By train
Some prefer to travel at a slower pace because they appreciate the view when they do so. If you are this type of person, then ride a train. In addition, some tourists prefer trains because it has soft seat cabins and sleep cabins where they can recharge energy. There are cabin options for you to choose from which can cost you 10 USD to 20 USD (230,000 TO 470,000) for a trip from Hanoi to Vinh. Duration of travel is about 7 hours.
Things to Do in Nghe An
Just like the other places in Vietnam, Nghe An has so much to offer. A day would not be enough to fully experience its beauty and culture. We stayed there for a couple of days and was awed by both the destinations and the people. It reminded me of Thanh Hoa, the neighboring province of Nghe An. (Read more about Thanh Hoa here.)
Here are things you should not miss in Nghe An.
1) Visit Ho Chi Minh’s home
You might already be familiar with the city, but Ho Chi Minh was originally named after the former Vietnamese Prime Minister and President Ho Chi Minh. His home is in Nam Dan district.
The home is simple, but is kept clean by villagers not only because it became a tourist attraction, but also because of their strong respect and devotion to the former president. It has a lot of historical sentiment to Vietnamese, especially the locals of Vinh. There is a reconstructed village around the area, a museum where they keep the old belongings of the revolutionist leader, and a shrine up a hill. The surroundings are fascinating, too, with well-grown plants and fresh air.
2) Sip a freshly made tea in Tea Islets/Plantation
Submerged in water, the tea plantation in Thanh Chuong district looks like the backs of turtles. Many tourists are lured with this incredible green view, which includes me, of course. Although I am quite familiar with the experience since I went to Munnar in Kerala and Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka, I can’t help but be amazed. There are tour boats that hop in the tea plantations, where you can take pictures and have a personally encounter with the fresh plants. In fact, you can buy tea at the exact field you are walking through! I tried some and it was phenomenal. I never had a tea in a hot weather before, but it felt amazing.
You can also have some fun-time even when on the boat. Most boats have free wifi and karaoke. You can sing if you are inclined to. Tour takes about 1.5 hours so it would be entertaining to try.
3) Eat local food
Vietnam has its unique ways of sharing its culture. One is through its delicacies. Nghe An’s famous specialty is the eel soup (cháo lươn) which is made of artichoke and stir-fried eel in saffron. The taste is a mixture of sweet and spicy flavor and is cooked using a quite unique technique to reduce ‘fishiness’ and elevate the earthy flavors. That’s why even though we have the Filipino version of the eel soup in Cebu, this is something of a must. It usually costs only about 2 USD or 40,000 VND.
4) Be refreshed in Pu Mat Waterfalls
Weather in Central Vietnam is hotter than in the northern region, so it is always a good choice to visit the waterfalls in Pu Mat. The falls is one of the highlights of Pu Mat National Park located in Dong Du Village, Dong Hieu, Nghia Dan. It is said to be the most beautiful national park in the region and the waterfalls contributed a lot to that remark. There is an entrance fee of 0.43 USD (or 10,000VND) for the park, and an additional 1.3 USD (30,000 VND) if visiting the Kem Waterfalls per person.
You can get to the falls by feet. It is a small trek and is an easy one. Or if not, you can ride on a shuttle. It cost you extra dollars but it’s all worth it. It even reminded me of Hulugan Falls in the Philippines and Da Lat Falls in Vietnam. They differ in size and landscape, but all of them are booming with greatness.
5) Have a local dinner at a local village at night
You may be awed by your visit at national parks and historic sites in Nghe An in the morning. But at night, you’ll surely be inspired by just watching the citizens of small villages in Nghe An. For instance in Nam Dan, home village of Ho Chi Minh, there is a park which looks typically deserted in the morning. But at night, locals gather around to do, what I presumed as rituals. I had a good time sitting at the grass where I watch a new side of Nghe An.
Staying at villages will also draw you closer to the people. We were served delicious local meals such as their native chicken, steamed rice rolls (bahn muot) and more. They always smile and attend to your needs, Though not all can speak English, they do the best they can to show hospitability. They even prepared a short cultural dance for us and taught us how they danced and partied with rice wine. Isn’t that a good way to immerse yourself?
6) Hiking or Cycling in Quyet Mountain
Challenge yourself for a hike in the Mountain of Dung Quyet. It’s only 5 kilometers away from Vinh city but the views are quite spectacular. Trek from the bottom will only take you an average of 400 steps. At the top is the Quang Trung King’s Temple. There are also cafes, restaurants and hotels, since it is already accessible by bikes and motorcycles.
Nghe An is the heart of Vietnam. Appreciating and understanding its culture, people and places is same as sensing the innermost makeup of the country. Cherish your stay there and be fed with their hospitality and love.