Hà Tiên City: unexplored gem in Mekong Delta

August 02, 2019 - 08:30

Occupying a prime feng shui spot with a sublime combination of land, water, and wind in southwestern Việt Nam, Hà Tiên City is a one of the most attractive places in the Mekong Delta region.


 Pirate Island, now a peaceful, gorgeous isle covered in lush vegetation and with clear blue waters, once had a long history of pirate attacks. — VNS Photo Văn Châu

By Văn Châu

KIÊN GIANG — Occupying a prime feng shui spot with a sublime combination of land, water, and wind in southwestern Việt Nam, Hà Tiên City is one of the most attractive places in the Mekong Delta region.

Every year, thousands of tourists visit the small town which faces the Gulf of Thailand along a 22km-long coastline. Cooling breezes off the sea, river and hills can be felt throughout the day.

This "Jewel of the Delta" has loads of character: bustling markets and languid backstreets, crumbling shophouses and forested hills, delicious street food and local temples, promenading pedestrians and river traffic, and twittering swiftlets and chiming pagoda gongs.

Its physical location, nestled between limestone hills on the banks of a river just before it flows into the sea, is just only part of its appeal.

Hà Tiên's quiet, shady back streets and bustling waterfront are intriguing, as well as its abundant history, culture, food, markets and interesting ethnic mix.

Most travellers stop by for a day and night at most, but Hà Tiên deserves at least two full days of exploration. The best time to come is in the dry season from November to May.

Once a haven of pirates in the past, Pirate Island off the coast is considered a gorgeous pearl in the sea. With easy travel from Hà Tiên by boat, you can visit and enjoy the beaches and sunshine, or join fishermen to catch seafood offshore.

In town, beauty spots include Đông Hồ Lake, an isolated site away from urban life, surrounded by coconut trees.

Located east of town, the lake, which covers 14sq.km, is surrounded by mountains and rivers: Ngũ Hổ Mountain on the right, Tô Châu range on the left, Giang Thạnh River on the east, and Hà Tiên River on the west. You can travel on a boat and explore the diverse ecosystem and the beauty of the lake as the moon rises.

Located five kilometres from downtown Hà Tiên, another peaceful site is Mũi Nai Village, home to the most beautiful beach in Kiên Giang Province, with mild waves and sand that tourists use to cover themselves with to absorb its minerals.

Not far from Mũi Nai are other beautiful spots such as Rock Cave, Hòn Chông and Đá Dựng Mountains, and Hang Pagoda.

Đá Dựng Mountain was once a military base for the Việt Nam People’s Army. During a climb of more than 3,000 metres to the top, you will see mysterious caves as well as diverse flora and fauna. From the peak, you can behold the great panoramic view of Hà Tiên.

Hòn Chông Mountain in the south of Hà Tiên is surrounded by blue water and ocean waves. According to legend, the father Hòn Chông and son Hòn Phụ Tử together defeated a sea monster to protect their village.

With its beautiful landscape and rich culture, Hà Tiên City is a special attraction in the Mekong Delta region. — VNS Photo Văn Châu

Hòn Chông has stunning beaches such as Bãi Dương and Bãi Dầu as well as an ancient temple called Hang Pagoda. Many people consider Hòn Chông the “Hạ Long Bay” of southern Việt Nam.

Besides natural wonders, Hà Tiên has fantastic cuisine. From seafood stalls to street noodle-soup vendors, food can be purchased for reasonable prices throughout the city.

Many of the dishes are based on the culinary influences of the Khmer and Chinese, and contain ingredients from the Mekong Delta regions such as fruits, vegetables and rice, as well as fish from Giang Thạnh River and the Gulf of Thailand.

Along the Tô Châu River, the Hà Tiên Market is always bustling with many imported products from Thailand and Cambodia, priced more cheaply than in HCM City. And, along the shore, the fish market, especially in the morning when fishing boats return from their trips, is an interesting place to visit.

For budget travellers, Hà Tiên is of good value. Mũi Nai beach offers hotels and homestays with a great view of the sea, while excellent mini-hotels and guesthouses have opened all around the city.

With its beautiful landscape and rich culture, Hà Tiên City is a special attraction in the Mekong Delta region. — VNS Photo Văn Châu

Regular buses run between Hà Tiên and HCM City every hour throughout the day. Tickets are about VNĐ150,000-250,000 (US$7-US$12). The trips takes about seven to nine hours. By air, you can take Vietnam Airlines, which has a daily 40-minute flight between Rạch Giá City and HCM City. From Rạch Giá City, regular buses to Hà Tiên, about 90km away, take about two hours. — VNS