Traveling to Thanh Hoa: How to get There, and When and Where to Go)
There are a lot of great places in Vietnam. Each are unique and marvelous from its people to its destinations; from food to its culture. I would say, if Vietnam is a piece of cake, its slices must be decorated and flavored distinctly—all shouting its diverseness through its magnificence. One of its authentic pieces is Thanh Hoa.
Thanh Hoa, one of the biggest provinces in the country, is located in the North Central region. It is 159.8 kilometers far from Hanoi, capital city of Vietnam. At the middle part of the province (Thanh Hoa) is Thanh Hoa City, which is geographically and economically it’s center.
The province is known for its natural beauty and history: its sea is calming; the forest and the caves are full of adventure; the architectural landmarks are filled with stories. Its culture, art and people, are packed with love and joy. This is the same awe I felt when I went to Sri Lanka. They have so much in common, but each offers whole lot of experiences. You’ll all have the same vibe the moment you get there.
So how should you get there and when is the best time to visit its marvelous places?
How to Get to Thanh Hoa
Fortunately today, there are a variety of ways to reach Thanh Hoa. You can either choose among these options: ride a bus, board a plane, rent a car, or use the train.
Riding a bus.
This is one of the most common means of transportation to get to Thanh Hoa. From Giáp Bát bus station in Hanoi, travel takes around 3 to 4 hours. There are small and big companies that offer ordinary, air-conditioned, and sleeping bus types. For instance, the Vietnam Local Bus’ sleeping bus costs around 330, 000 VND or around 14 USD per head. Bus leaves every after an hour starting from 7:00AM to 6:30PM.
Riding a train.
Train rides are not just the cheapest, it also offers interesting experiences because it’s comfy, has sceneries and allows you to buy snacks. Not just that, you can also choose from the six (6) trains that goes as far to the Central Vietnam and Southern Vietnam.
Travel by train takes around 3 to 4 hours, same as riding a bus. But price is cheaper since train ticket for a one-way ride costs about 4 to 5 USD (around 100, 000 to 140,000 VND). So if on a budget, this is the best choice for you.
Rent a car
If you want faster travel by land, then just rent a car for a day. It will only take you 2.5 to 3 hours to reach the city, because route is shorter compared to when riding a train. Plus, you can go to places without worrying how to get to places, as long as it is accessible by cars. For a 4-seat car, cost ranges from 70 USD to 500 USD (or 1,600,000 to 11,600,000 VND). So if you are traveling with family or friends, this is the best option. Each person will only have to pay as low as 17 USD (400,000 VND).
Board a plane.
Mountainous as it can be, Thanh Hoa still has an airport, the Thanh Hoa Tho Xuan. You’ll get inexpensive direct flights to Thanh Hoa if you will board from Ho Chi Minh airport. Prices may vary every now and then but you can get as low as 27 USD (around 630,000 VND) per person. Now here’s the catch, getting there by plane is the fastest and most convenient means of transportation to Thanh Hoa. You can reach the city just 2 hours (or less) after the departure. So if you have little time allotted for tours, this is the best choice.
Weather in Thanh Hoa
Northern Vietnam experiences the four seasons. That includes Thanh Hoa. Summer is felt as early as March, but the hottest months are in June to August. During this season, temperature ranges from 27 to 33˚C. For Filipino tourists, this seemed normal because the climate is similar to our country. But for others, they have to be able to adopt at the weather condition.
Meanwhile, the colder months starts from October to January. During these months, temperature drops as low as 17˚C. It is chilly during winter but it is okay to tour around the place during this period because typhoons visit the region from April to September. Though cold and rainy in some months (July to September), you’ll thank it is not as frosty as in Kazbegi, Georgia which can drop as low as 7˚C.
In general, the best months to visit Thanh Hoa is in February to May, and September to November. The weather is not on its extremes so you can do almost everything you planned such as swimming, trekking, and visiting landmarks.
Best things to see in Thanh Hoa
From water destinations to land, from national parks to historical landmarks—everything is amazing in Thanh Hoa. Aside from the picturesque scenes, there are also fun activities to try such as trekking, kayaking, swimming, or even just relaxing. Here are the best places to visit in Thanh Hoa with a little description to help you imagine its beauty.
1.Citadel of the Ho Dynasty
If Georgia (country) has the Ananuri Fortress, Thanh Hoa, on the other hand, has the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty. It is locate in Vihn Loc District and is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage found in Vietnam.
The site is very important in the Southeast Asian history, since the citadel buildings is believed to be an outstanding example of the ancient region’s imperial city. Three separate destinations can be visited which includes the Inner Citadel, the Nam Giao altar and part of La Thanh Outer Wall. The preservation of this major fragments of the old imperial city is very important in the history since the citadel is said to be the only stone citadel left in Southeast Asia.
2.Lam Kinh Remains
Another historic site is the Lam Kinh remains located in Xuan Lam Commune, Lam Son Town and Kien Tho Commune. It is 50km far from Thanh Hoa City, but making your first step in the place is worthwhile. The site is surrounded with green trees and green grasses, which makes it really peaceful. You also get to enjoy the clean fresh air, while getting to know an ancient part of Vietnam’s history.
Lam Kinh is very important to the locals. They even have a day celebration, particularly every August 22, when you can participate in the various activities organized in honor to the story that lies beneath the surface of the citadel.
A day or two can never be boring in Thanh Hoa because of the many things you can do, and places to visit in your stay there. More importantly, as you enter the province, observe how its people have contributed a lot to the grandness of the province. In fact, their daily lives are so fascinating to watch. They, too, are the beauty of Thanh Hoa.
3. Ben Em National Park
Everybody has a heart for nature, and if there is a place I would recommend for an even more inspiring experience, that would be the Ben Em National Park. The park is located at the South West of Thanh Hoa City. What I loved the most here is the variety of things it offers. You can taste the wild from its animals, the tranquility from its marine landscapes, and the love from its forests.
In Ben En, you can ride a canoe across the Muc River to see the park at a different perspective. You can also visit Ngoc cave and be mystified with ancient stones and materials found there. What’s more interesting is that, the park is a home to up to 462 species of plants and over a thousand species of animals. Furthermore, it features a museum were the history of the place is recorded.
4.Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Another place to discover the natural beauty of Thanh Hoa is by going to Pu Luong. It is located in Quan Hoa and Ba Thuoc district, an area considered to be agricultural. The reserve has ecological forests with plenty of fauna and flora. What’s more amazing is, it has a rice terraces identical to what Filipinos proudly call Banaue Rice Terraces. Though familiar with the scenery, it still felt pretty odd visiting a place that looks like home.
Unlike the Ben En Park, Pu Luong has little wildlife experience. Despite that, it offers adventurous activities such as trekking, cycling, and kayaking. You can even stay there for a couple of days to experience them all.
5.Sam Son Beach
After visiting the mountains and the plains, you might as well crave for the sea. Among Thanh Hoa’s beaches, the most famous is the Sam Son Beach. It is located in Sam Son City, about 16km away from the province center (Thanh Hoa City). In the mornings, it gives you a light yellow sunshine, and a pinkish to purplish shimmer by sunset. The place becomes packed by tourists during the months of April to September because the other months are cooler.
One of the reasons why a lot of tourists swarm the place is because of the luxurious FLC Golf Links. It has an outside pool and modern interior designs. In addition, it has a spa fertility and a golf course. Price is quite expensive but it’s all worth it.
The beach also features a variety of sea food. Day or night, you can visit restaurants or stalls that offers a lot of Vietnamese cuisines ft. sea food.