Vinh city

Itinerary Route Map

Practically obliterated during the American War, Vinh was hastily rebuilt with East German aid – hence the brutalist concrete architecture that dominates the downtown drag. Unlike other Vietnamese towns, it has wide boulevards and broad pavements.

Despite attempts to prettify the place with trees and parks, the city remains a resolutely bleak-looking industrial city, nicknamed ‘grim Vinh’ by some travellers. There are few reasons to stop here unless you are a Ho Chi Minh devotee (he was born in a nearby village) or heading to Laos.

  • History

Vinh came to prominence as the ‘Phoenix Capital City’ of the Tay Son Rebellion. A May Day demonstration in 1930 was suppressed by the police, who killed seven people. Nonetheless revolutionary fervour spread, with Vinh’s Communist cells, trade unions and farmers’ organisations earning it the appellation ‘Red-Glorious City’.

In the early 1950s, the city was reduced to rubble by a three-punch whammy: French aerial bombing, the Viet Minh’s scorched-earth policy and, finally, a huge fire. During the American War, the port of Vinh became a key supply point for the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The city was relentlessly pounded with bombs for eight years – until only two buildings were left standing. In 1972 its population was officially zero.

  •  Sights

There’s not a lot left to see of Vinh’s citadel (1831) apart from the sludgy green moat and three gates: Left Gate (Cua Ta; Ð Dao Tan), Right Gate (Cua Huu; Ð Dao Tan) and Front Gate (Cua Tien; Khoi 5 Ð Dang Thai Than). The walk between the Left and Right Gates provides a pleasant interlude and passes the little-visited Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Museum (Ð Dao Tan; admission free;  7-11am & 1-5pm), which memorialises local heroes. Outside, in true socialist-art style, is a large stone monument to those who perished at the hands of the French.

  •  Sleeping

Thanh An Hotel HOTEL $

( 038-384 3478; 156 Nguyễn Thái Học; r 230,000-300,000d) Enjoys a convenient location 300m south of the bus terminal, and rooms have attractive wooden furniture and good beds. Near-zero English is spoken at reception, however.

Asian Hotel HOTEL $

( 038-359 3333; 114 Tran Phu; r 270,000-360,000d) This multistorey hotel was modern a couple of decades ago. Rooms remain in fair condition and there’s a lift and restaurant. It’s about 300m southeast of the central city park.

Hotel Muong Thanh HOTEL $$

( 038-353 5666; http://muongthanh.vn; Phan Boi Chao; r 400,000-700,000d, ste from 1,200,000d) Three-star hotel with good-value rooms in many price categories; all are aging but spacious enough. It’s located a few steps from the train station.

Muong Thanh Dien Chau Hotel HOTEL $$

( 038-353 5666; http://muongthanh.vn; Quang Trung; r US$50-84, ste from US$112) New in May 2013, this 33-storey glass-and-concrete monument dominates central Vinh and is unquestionably the best address in town. The decor is a tad chintzy, but the lobby has a real ‘wow’ factor and rooms are certainly commodious, with plush carpets and all mod cons. Promotional rates can drop as low as US$45 a night.

  •  Eating & Drinking

Dining selections are very thin on the ground in Vinh. Street food options include the Central Market, pho bo food stalls (Beef Noodle Soup stalls; Ð Phan Dinh Phung;  7am-7pm) and bun bo Hue food stalls (Hue-style Spicy Beef Noodle Soup stalls; off Ð Dinh Cong Trang;  7am-6pm).

You’ll find a group of bars along Ð Quang Trung and pool halls on Ð Nguyen Thai Hoc.

Left Gate Street Food VIETNAMESE $

(Ð Dao Tan; meals 25,000-50,000d;  3pm-3am) Raucous, sociable evening hot spot just past the Left Gate where locals tuck into chicken and duck, served with noodles and salad on long dining tables.

Thuong Hai CHINESE, VIETNAMESE $

(144 Ð Nguyen Thai Hoc; meals 40,000-95,000d; 11.30am-9pm) The bustling Thuong Hai’s speciality is delicious Shanghai-style chicken, though it also has good Vietnamese seafood and vegetarian dishes.

  •  Information

Main Post Office (Ð Nguyen Thi Minh Khai;  7am-6pm Mon-Sat, 7.30am-1pm Sun)

Saigon Commercial Bank (25 Ð Quang Trang;  7.30am-3.30pm Mon-Fri, 7.30am-12.30pm Sat) With ATM.

Vinh City Hospital (Benh Vien Da Khoa Thanh Pho Vinh;  383 5279; 178 Ð Tran Phu;  24hr) Just southwest of the central city park.

  • Transport from Vinh

 

Destination

Air

Bus

Train (soft seat)

Danang

from 930,000d, 1hr, 1 daily

220,000d, 10-11hr, 12 daily

274,000d, 9½–10½hr, 5 daily

Dong Hoi

120,000d, 5hr, 12 daily

149,000d, 4r, 6 daily

Hanoi

from 930,000d, 30min, 1 daily

170,000d, 7hr, frequent

217,000d, 5½–6½hr, 5 daily

HCMC

from 1,200,000d, 5 daily, 2hr

660,000d, around 30hr, 4 daily

857,000d, 24–27hr, 5 daily

Hue

n/a

180,000d, 8-9hr, 13 daily

232,000d, 6½–7½hr, 6 daily

  •  Getting There & Away

Air

Vietnam Airlines ( 359 5777; www.vietnamairlines.com; 2 Ð Le Hong Phong) flies from Vinh to HCMC twice daily and has daily flights to Hanoi, Danang and Buon Ma Thuot. Jetstar Pacific ( 355 0550; 46 Ð Nguyen Thi Min Khai) has two to three daily links to HCMC. The airport is 8km north of the city.

A new Vietnam Airlines international connection between Vinh and Vientiane, Laos was scheduled to start in December 2013.

Bus

Vinh bus station (Ð Le Loi) has a reasonably modern booking office (including departures board and price list) and is centrally located.

Buses for Hanoi leave very regularly until 4.30pm, and there are also 10 sleeper buses. Services go to all four Hanoi bus terminals. For Ninh Binh (75,000d, four hours) take a Hanoi-bound bus. There are also six daily buses to Dien Bien Phu (540,000d, 16 hours).

Open-tour buses pass through town between Hanoi and Hue, and while it’s easy to ask to jump off here, it’s harder to arrange a pick-up.

For Laos, buses leave at 6am (on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) for Vieng Khan (280,000d, 10 hours). Buses also leave at 6am (on the same four days only) for Luang Prabang (600,000d, 22 hours) via Phonsavan (12 hours). We’ve also heard there is another 6am daily departure from Vinh’s central market to Phonsavan.

Train

Vinh train station (Ga Vinh; Ð Le Ninh) is on the northwestern edge of town. There are regular departures to all stations on the main north–south line.

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