Pho Hien Hung Yen was a bustling commercial port in the northern Vietnam in 17th and 18th centuries. It is located in Hung Yen province, about 60km from Hanoi city’s center.
Many Vietnamese are familiar with the saying ” The most important area is the Imperial capital city Thang Long, the second is Hien Town”.
From the 17th to the 18th centuries, Pho Hien was a bustling commercial port with boats coming from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, UK and France. At that time, Hien Town was a river port with many markets. The town hosted 20 wards, many streets, shops and two trading centers. According to historical documents, the name Pho Hien was adopted in the 15th century, when the head of the Son Nam area (the northern area of Thang Long) established an administrative office.
After its golden years in the mid-17th century, the growth of Hien Town was stunted due to various reasons. The Chinese market had started to open, Japan changed its development policy, and trading relations together with sea routes in the region developed.
In the meantime, a change in the location of the political and economic center from Thang Long in the north to Hue in the central region, social upheavals and even changes in the Red River’s currents resulted in setbacks for the town.
In 1831, under the reign of King Minh Mạng (1820-1841), Hung Yen Province was formed, with the administrative center built in the old Hien Town. The important port location moved to Hai Phong City.
However, today Pho Hien still possesses a whole architectural complex of 60 historical remains, 100 engraved stelae as well as many temples and pagodas such as Xich Dang Temple, Chuong Pagoda, Hien Pagoda, etc.
The “nhan long” (cage-longan), the name comes from the technique of covering the longans with cages to protect them from the birds) is a specialty of Pho Hien, which is famous in the whole country. The sweet cage-longans, with a thick pulp and a thin peel, used to be offered to kings only.