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Nowhere in the country the intense red, vermilion, orange, and yellow flowers bloom more gracefully and vivaciously than in the coastal city of Hải Phòng; so much so that the city was nicknamed after it. Similar to the proud flamboyant displays, Hải Phòng itself is a striking sight to behold – day or night – with its peacock-coloured ports, fish and shrimp farms, colonial-era architectural masterpieces, gleaming cerulean seas, and lively local people.

The third largest city of Vietnam is not just a pretty face, but one that inherited a rich legacy of being the country’s pride and source of strength. Home of the famous female general Lê Chân who, together with the Trung Sisters, fought against Chinese rule in 43 A.D. The city has witnessed destruction and resurrection, and known as the official defensive coastal area under the Mạc Dynasty in the 16th century, and later served as Indochina’s main naval base under the French in 1881. Yet, the city continues to thrive upon its formidable heritage and is on its way to becoming one of Vietnam’s most productive and richest cities.

Among Hai Phong’s scenic gems are the Queen of the Rosary Cathedral built in the 19th century, Bính Bridge – Vietnam’s second largest cable-stayed bridge, and the lovely Cấm River, where visitors can grab a strong coffee and watch multi-hued commercial ships float by the silver water surface like colourful whales performing ice dances to classical music by the littoral wind.

The air in Hai Phong is crisp and unhurried, unlike its creative, disciplined, and industrious people. It is not a city to be enjoyed in the customary way. One must wake up early to watch the golden sun rising over the fishing ports’ horizon, breathe in the chants of fishermen at work, inhale the fragrance of Vietnam’s most authentic coffee culture, feel the feathery-light and flamboyant petals against one’s naked skin, and follow one’s diminutive shadow cast against the majestic cathedral’s silhouette; only then will one be able to genuinely fathom the city’s resilient charms.