Currently one of the fastest growing cities in the north, Thai Nguyen city is best known around Vietnam for its vast tea plantations. However, this provincial city, steeped in tradition and local culture, can offer the curious traveller an inside view of the country rarely seen in more touristy locations scattered along the coast.
Thai Nguyen played an important role in the history of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh lived in Thai Nguyen in the Phu Dinh village of Dinh Hoa district while planning Dien Bien Phu. It was to Thai Nguyen that Ho Chi Minh came from Tan Trao and declared independence before heading south to Hanoi.
Today, apart from the magnificent Museum of the Cultures of Vietnam's Ethnic Groups, there is not much in Thai Nguyen of cultural significance, nor are there many things to hold a tourist's interest for long if you're looking for the regular tourist hotspots. However, if an offbeat side trip interests you, Thai Nguyen City has a vast array of places to eat, places to sleep and interesting things to do.
Take time to skirt the city and visit some of the tea plantations. Thai Nguyen is known all over the country for its delicious bitter-sweet green tea. If you plan to buy some green tea, this is the place to buy it. Local product costs a fraction of what you'd pay in the shops in Hanoi.
Don't expect to be wowed by the architectural style in this city, Thai Nguyen is an industrial city and a key centre for metallurgy engineering, machinery manufacturing and mining ore and its industrious side shines through in its mundane and practical architecture.