Haiphong, located on the Gulf of Tonkin, is one of Vietnam's most important ports.
It is also the main industrial center of the north and the country's third largest city. The First Indochina War started here in 1946 with the French bombing the port, killing thousands of civilians. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. lost more than 300 warplanes here. For a long time, much of the city resembled a gray urban sprawl pockmarked with factories and bombed-out buildings.
In recent years, the city has seen rapid growth and a change in its image. Still boasting French colonial architecture that surprisingly survived the bombardment, Haiphong also features several pagodas, a cathedral, the Municipal Theater or Opera House, a flower market and Vietnam's only licensed casino.
The distance from this bustling port city to the capital Hanoi is 60 miles, a drive of 2.5 hours, via the number 5 National Highway.
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Port of Haiphong. Distance to the town center is approximately 1.5 miles. Taxis and trishaws are generally available outside the main gate. Be sure to agree on the fare prior to leaving the port area.
The main shopping areas are found along Tran Phu Street and the SAT Market. Lacquer ware, ceramics, silk, wood carvings and carpets are good buys. Opening hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The local currency is the dong; most shops accept U.S. dollars.
For a taste of Vietnamese cuisine, you may want to try the restaurant at the stylish, colonial-type Harbour View Hotel. While Haiphong is known for excellent seafood, delicious chicken, beef, pork and vegetable dishes enhanced with a unique blend of condiments and exotic sauces are also worth trying. All meals are served with white rice. Pho is a local noodle soup that is eaten at all hours of the day. Spring rolls are popular and delicious appetizers. Their fillings of minced pork, crab, onion or mushrooms are stuffed inside rice paper and fried until the paper turns crispy brown.
Places of interest
Haiphong's most attractive features are the old colonial-style buildings in the center of the city and the street markets near Cau Dat and Tam Bac Streets.
Hang Khen Factory
The factory, founded over 60 years ago, is known for its wool tapestries and carpets.
Do Son Casino
Located in the Do Son beach area, it is the only licensed casino in Vietnam.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.