There are often weekends (especially long weekends) when you feel the need to escape from Hanoi and experience something different. The most popular weekend trips are the seaside resort of Ha Long ( in theory about two hours away – however when traveling by bus or limousine it is often more than three hours ) and Ba Vi ( a national park area ). However, if you want to escape the crowds and yet get somewhere close but different – then Vinh Yen is your solution.
How to get there
There are various ways to get to Vinh Yen but the easiest way is by motorbike
There are various ways to get to Vinh Yen but the easiest way is by motorbike. The road is super flat and goes through various towns so there is no need to have a superbike – even a little 50 cc bike will easily get you there and back. It takes from 1 and a half to two hours to get there (going at a slow steady speed) so totally reasonable!
The route there is relatively easy, although there are a few turns so it is important to make sure that you look up the route before you go and have Google Maps on the whole time. The road is not super busy with very few lorries or large vehicles and instead, it is fine to simply chug along at 40 – 50 kilometers an hour.
Coming back, Google Maps take you a different route which is much simpler with only a couple of turns – and of course, since there are signposts for Hanoi it is easier. Do note however that the signposts stop saying “ Hanoi “ midway through the journey back ( which is quite worrying ! ) but a quick check with Google will let you know that you are on the right track.
The good news is that there is also a train station in Vinh Yen – so it is possible to travel there by train – although note that the train station is located a little way out of the center so there will be a need for a taxi upon arrival.
Where to stay
A lot of the hotels are located near the water areas – which although attractive, are located a way out of the center of the town
Vinh Yen although not a huge place – is incredibly spread out. This means that when booking accommodation you need to check the location carefully (especially if you are going by bus or train relying on walking around or getting a taxi whilst there) when booking accommodation.
A lot of the hotels are located near the water areas – which although attractive, are located a way out of the center of the town. As an alternative, you may like to look at furnished apartments which tend to be more centrally located. There are a variety of furnished apartments in Vinh Yen and these tend to be of higher quality with separate bedrooms as well as a gym.
What is there?
Vinh Yen has a very relaxed chilled kind of feel – it is a place to simply walk around and soak in the atmosphere
If you are looking for a tourist sightseeing type of holiday then Vinh Yen is not the place for you – you will find that you are probably the only foreigner in the town ( although there is no hassle – no one seems to notice you and no one approaches you ) Vinh Yen has a very relaxed chilled kind of feel – it is a place to simply walk around and soak in the atmosphere.
The big thing to see in Vinh Yen are the multitude of pagodas – which are all free of charge to enter. There are various single pagodas ( as with many other towns ) however in Vinh Yen there are multiple pagoda complexes i.e. a compound with 4 or 5 pagodas inside. These are very relaxing places and great places to explore and are the highlight of Vinh Yen!
In addition, there are a multitude of parks – many with large bodies of water. These are all free and as Vinh Yen is not a busy place they are nice and quiet and a lovely place to spend a relaxing couple of hours.
What can I eat in Vinh Yen?
There are a lot of Vietnamese places to eat and drink in Vinh Yen, with there being a Highlands Coffee shop, a Pizza Hut, a Lotteria, and a KFC – please note that there is no grab delivery service however so do sort your food out before it gets too late in the evening!
Regarding supermarkets – there is a large Co–op in the centre of the town ( as well as lots of small Win marts ) and on the very outskirts of the town there is a large shopping center – GO. This shopping center has a large supermarket as well as various basic shops – although please note that it is an out-of-town shopping place so only accessible if you have your own mode of transportation.
Getting around can be quite difficult if you do not have your own motorbike – although not impossible. There are plenty of shops and pagodas/parks in the central region and it is possible to walk from one location to another (with frequent stops at little coffee shops to cool down and rest).
There are an abnormally large number of roundabouts in Vinh Yen so it can get pretty confusing so be sure to plan your route well and use Google Maps to avoid getting completely lost!
Overall, Vinh Yen is a hidden gem – a reasonable distance away whilst at the same time feeling like a real break – so pack your bags and enjoy the chill!!