From Hanoi by Highway 5 to Pho Noi town, then turning to Road 39A, going through rice and corn fields and longan gardens, you will reach Pho Hien – Hung Yen.
Pho Hien has been famous from the 13th century as an international trading port. From the 15th century onwards, the merchant ships of China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Britain and France docked here. Pho Hien held a significant position in trade with foreign merchants until the Red River increasingly receded, which made Pho Hien lose its position, and was later transferred to the port of Hai Phong, which is 50 km from Pho Hien.
There are still a lot of ancient Asian temples, pagodas and other religious buildings here. This land is also famous for “nhan long” (longan).
There are two paths to this city. One is running straight to Highway 5 to Hai Phong and another way is running along the Red River dike to Bat Trang ancient pottery village.
Pho Hien today still retains an ancient architectural complex consisting of 60 historic sites, 100 inscriptions and many temples. The most famous temples are Hien Temple and Hien Pagoda, which are still intact. The Hien Temple has the oldest longan tree in Hung Yen, which was planted in the 16th century. The tree is still green and healthy at present. Hung Yen’s longan is a specialty, with thick pulp, thin peel, small grains and cool sweet taste.
Going to Pho Hien – Hung Yen, tourists must stop at the Bell Temple. The temple has a long history and tranquil landscape. The temple does not have its own festival but on the last day of the lunar year, the New Year’s Eve ceremony at the temple is really like a festival.
Legend has it that in a cataclysmic year, a gold bell on a raft floating on the river to the alluvial ground of Nhan Duc Hamlet. People from many villages in the region came, trying to take the gold bell to their village but they failed. Only the elders of the Nhan Duc village could move the bell. The villagers built the Bell Temple to hang the bold bell. Every time the bell was hit, its sound went thousands of miles away. Thus the temple is called Bell Temple.
Not retaining many features of a busy commercial port in the past, the city is now quiet on the bank of the Red River, stretching along the dyke.
Tramping along Pho Hien, visitors will see a lot of ancient temples, several ancient houses and longan gardens, a market with simple rural products and they will have an opportunity to taste the famous chicken rolls of Hung Yen.