The History of Hai Phong


Hai Phong’s recorded history dates back to 43 AD, when Le Chan, a formidable female general, founded the strategic city in order to repel invading Chinese troops. The city’s name means “coastal defense.” The fierceness of the ocean nearby and its critical location on the waterways that lead into Vietnam’s interior not only made it easily defensible but vastly important for trade and commerce with Hanoi and the seafaring traders that arrived from India, China, the Mediterranean, and, eventually, Western Europe and Britain.

Hai Phong continued to be an important defensive city throughout the Middle Ages. In 1881, however, tragedy struck when a vicious cyclone tore through the city and killed around 300,000 people, leaving it weak to invasion. In 1885, the French gained control of Vietnam and turned Hai Phong into their naval center to support nearby Hanoi, the political center. Later, the city served as North Vietnam’s sole seaport during the Vietnam War.

Today, Hai Phong is the third largest city in Vietnam after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the second largest economic center in Northern Vietnam, home to thriving industries such as agriculture, fishing, and manufacturing. In recent years, it has also gained popularity as a tourist destination. Hai Phong serves as both a destination of its own and a jumping point to Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, and other area attractions.