Meaning "peace" in Vietnamese, Hoa Binh province is the gateway to Vietnam's northwest, strapped around the foothills of the mountains that run up from the plains. Well regarded for the trekking centre of Mai Chau, this province and it's capital of the same name, Hoa Binh, is a popular option with Hanoi-based travel agents who don't want to take their passengers too far.
The province is best known for the large reservoir which runs through its centre, and which was formed by the damming of the Song Da river. The river strikes to the northwest of Hoa Binh, well into Lai Chau province. Dammed for hydro-electric purposes, almost 200 workers died during its construction and there's a monument to their memory at the dam site. The dam has been one of the major driving forces behind Vietnam's surge of industrialisation and development in recent years.
Few independent travellers choose to spend much time in this provincial capital. It's not really far enough away to shake the chaos of Hanoi, and the scenery, while pretty, is far more impressive further out. If you're travelling under your own steam either Hoa Binh or Mai Chau make for convenient spots to break the journey — but our vote would certainly go for the latter if you were tossing up the two.
In and around Hoa Binh itself, the main activities typically include a boat trip up the Song Da river and a visit to a small, but interesting museum which displays some ancient human remains including an orang-utan skeleton.
Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Hoa Binh or check hotel reviews on Agoda . Hungry? Read up on where to eat on Hoa Binh. Want to know what to do once you're there? Check out our listings of things to do in and around Hoa Binh. If you're still figuring out how to get there, you need to read up on how to get to Hoa Binh, or book your transport online with Baolau.
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