Thanh Hoa is one of the biggest provinces in Vietnam, located 150km from Hanoi and 1,560 km from Ho Chi Minh City. This province has an important role that is being the northern tip of central Vietnam, adjacent to Son La, Hoa Binh, Ninh Binh to the north and Nghe An to the south. The province is also contiguous to the East Sea and Hua Phan Province of Laos. This position gives Thanh Hoa a crucial role in the Northern economic region of Vietnam.
Thanh Hoa has various types of terrain and can be divided into three main areas. The mountainous region, with its average height of 600-700m, is located in the west of the province. This area is approximately 839,037 ha (75.44% the total of the entire province). The second one is the plain that alternates with low mountains and hills, and the final coastal region is suitable for developing maritime industries and tourism. The weather in Thanh Hoa is tropical monsoon with four seasons and the average temperature is around 23 -24o C. The climate is also very dry with the average rainfall between 1600 and 2300mm a year, yet the high humidity rate often reaches 85%.
This place is one of the first cradles of the Vietnamese civilization 6000 years ago. Presently, the size of the population of Thanh Hoa takes third place in the population chart, just behind Hanoi and HCMC, with 3,400,239 people. Moreover, the community in this province is diverse with many ethnic groups such as Muong, Thai, Tho, Dao, Mong, but the Kinh still is the majority.
You can get there both by bus and train from Hanoi capital. The city is just 153km South of Hanoi so it take about 3 hours for travel, bus ticket sold 90,000 - 100,000 dong for a seat on air-con bus, road in good condition. Train ticket (seat) costs 88,000 to 129,000 dong.
You can also get in from Xam Nua (Sam Neua), Laos for 180,000 kip (March 2011) via the Na Meo border crossing, takes about 10-12 hours along winding mountain roads in a small bus with padded seats; the aisle will be full of rice bags. Took 8 hours as of Feb 2013, 180,000K. Get the bus in Sam Neua at main bus station in town (not Nathong as you wait for it to arrive from main station). Driver or border guards will change money, but know the exchange rate and bargain them up!
Best choice in every town in Vietnam to get around is Xe Om as the Vietnamese call a moto-taxi, cheap and convenient, negotiate price before you ride. For a trip of 5km, pay 30,000 - 50,000 dong (~ 5,000 - 7,000 VND/km). Meter taxi are available with the same price throughout the country, call +84-37-858585 or simply 858585 if you use a landline phone in the town.
There are town buses you can use to get to the bus station and other areas around town.
The most touristy attraction near Thanh Hoa is Bien Sam Son beach which is 16km away; 170,000-200,000 dong by taxi; The beach have a lot of sea waves and it's the place to enjoy swimming. The beach is only crowded in summer from April to September. There are buses from Thanh Hoa city to the town, depart each 30 minutes from the bus station, 15,000 - 20,000 dong/ticket
Ben En National Park is a good destination for ECO tours. This park is located 46km South West of Thanh Hoa city, 16,000 hectares of mountains and jungles with many kind of wild animals and tropical trees. There is a big lake in the park, covering 4,000 hectares of surface with 21 islands make an amazing landscape.
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