Story: Thanh Long
Photos: Thai A, Le Thanh Đo, ALi, Vu Chien Thang

Nghe An province is known for its rugged beauty and talented locals

Located in Vietnam’s Northern Centre, the province of Nghe An holds a special place in Vietnamese hearts. Many leading figures in Vietnamese history have hailed from Nghe An, which has long been known as the birthplace of famous generals, leaders and thinkers. The most outstanding example in modern times is President Ho Chi Minh, who was born in a thatched-roof hut in Nam Dan and grew up to change the course of history. It seems like some sacred energy runs though the Truong Son Mountains, the imposing Hong Mountain and the Lam River and nurtures talents in this impoverished land. Through millennia of ups and downs, Nghe An has played key roles in the nation’s history.

Dan Lai ethnic women pounding rice

History will never forget our national hero Mai Hac De who led an uprising against the Tang Dynasty’s rule and built the Van An Fortress in what is now Nam Dan district. His tomb still stands beside the Lam River, where people refer to him as “King Mai”. Another source of pride in Nghe An are the ruins of Phuong Hoang Trung Do (Central Citadel of the Phoenix), the dream of Emperor Quang Trung Nguyen Hue, which stand on Quyet Mountain near Vinh City. Thanks to his military prowess and political wisdom, after unifying the country Emperor Quang Trung chose Nghe An as his capital. Unfortunately, the peasant hero of the Tay Son Movement passed away suddenly – and his dream of establishing the capital here died with him. Today, visitors come to Quyet Mountain to enjoy panoramic views of the city and to contemplate a glorious era in our nation’s history, when the emperor pushed back powerful invaders and unified the nation.

Muong Qua fields, Con Cuong rural district, Nghe An province

More recently, Nghe An produced another hero: President Ho Chi Minh. Born in an impoverished region, this man traveled the world to study theories of national liberation. From Sen (Lotus) Village, he returned to lead the Vietnamese people onto a path of national resistance in order to shatter the century-old shackles of colonialist slavery. Millions of poems can barely express his good deeds. Sen Village, also known as Kim Lien Village, is currently a popular tourist attraction in Nghe An. His maternal homeland of Hoang Tru Village and his paternal homeland of Sen Village both lie 12km from Vinh City.

This area also boasts beautiful landscapes and tourist attractions. The fine sandy beaches and clear seas of Cua Lo and Thien Cam attract tens of thousands of visitors every summer. Visitors cannot resist Nghe An’s delicious seafood, and enjoy sampling rustic local delicacies such as jack fruit salad and Nam Dan soy sauce.

Traditional dance of Thai ethnic people

Leaving Vinh City- the provincial capital, and nearby sandy beaches, visitors can head west to explore the unspoiled old- growth forests of Pu Mat, which hide within their core the heavenly Giang River, and the mighty mountain range in western of Nghe An. Tall Lagerstroemia trees and the roaring Kem Waterfall entice intrepid trekkers into the Truong Son Mountains. The western highlands are home to hamlets of Thai and Muong people, whose peaceful stilt houses lie beneath stands of bamboo. Here, water wheels are still used to irrigate the fields while children splash and play in the clear rivers.