Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halong Bay Tours on interesting from a helicopter

Today, you can explore Ha Long Bay from unprecedented heights by going on a helicopter tour.

Halong Bay is the jewel in Vietnam’s tourism crown, a stunning geological formation that captivates even the most travel weary and jaded of visitors.

Most people usually take a cruise around the bay. You can choose one or two night trips to enjoy the mesmerising scenery and discover wonderful coves and islets or simply enjoy the views from the top deck of your boat.

As a repeat visitor I wouldn’t say I’m tired of Ha Long, but I was certainly eager to discover another side of the UNESCO World Heritage Site when a friend told me about the Minmax Travel’s helicopter tour.

This would be a great opportunity to fly over the bay and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the limestone karst islets which, according to legend are the shards of diamond and jade, that were spat out by a family of dragons sent from heaven to help protect Vietnam from foreign invaders.

I was so excited at the prospect of climbing into a helicopter, I could hardly sleep the night before. But as the morning drew closer I started to get increasingly nervous. What if, I am scared of heights? Having never scaled any cliff faces, or jumped out of an airplane, how would I know?

Morning departure

I begin to suffer vertigo even before I arrive at Gia Lam Airport, 5km from downtown Hanoi, where I am to meet my tour guide and the helicopter crew. The flight departs at 8.30am. Still slightly anxious, I reassure myself that by flying to Halong Bay I’m at least avoiding the long, rather dangerous road from Hanoi to Hai Phong. Ha Long is normally more than a three-hour drive but via helicopter we expect to arrive in 45 minutes.

Our guide informs us that the Russian MI-17 helicopter seats 24 people and will reach an altitude of 300m. We are also in luck; the sky is clear and blue, a perfect day for flying. We set off and everyone is immediately glued to the windows and we see vast, beautiful rice fields pass below us.

The Red River looks like a long snake winding its way through a terracotta garden. Tran Van Huong, the captain, informs us that because a helicopter flies slower and lower than a jet, there is less chance that people will feel sick while taking off or landing. The helicopter is quite large and comfortable, but being a military chopper, there is no air- conditioning, just fans.

We are told we can visit the cockpit and talk with the four-member crew or, rather, shout at the crew –it is hard to make yourself heard above the throbbing engines!

The whole package

The Northern Serviced Flight Company, who operate the helicopter, also offer trips to Sapa in Lao Cai province and Dien Bien Phu, but tourists currently seem to prefer Ha Long Bay. The whole tour with Luxury Travel includes a cruise on a junk as well as a helicopter tour over the bay, plus transfer from Hanoi and back by chopper.

Ha Long Bay is certainly spectacular from the helicopter – it’s as perfect as a painting: the white sandy coves, the thick green forest, the rugged mountains and the jagged karsts jutting out of the emerald water.

I snap as many pictures as I can before the chopper lands at a heliport on General Giap Hill (named after General Vo Nguyen Giap as you might guess) Who knows when I will be 200m above Ha Long Bay again?
The chopper lands smoothly and we are back down on earth. Everyone is buzzing after the trip and I almost feel sad it’s over.

We are driven from the heliport to Bai Chay harbour, where boats and junks have gathered to meet the hundreds of tourists arriving from Hanoi. I can’t help but swagger a little smugly past the tired looking tourists clambering out of the buses and mini-vans thinking, I came by helicopter and I feel great! Coming by chopper I got to sleep in longer and had plenty of room on board.

For once, I am actually refreshed and energised as we set off to explore the caves and beaches around Ha Long. Later on we grab kayaks and paddle around, visiting floating aquaculture farms and beaches. On previous trips I was often slumped in a chair, too tired and stiff to do anything else, but today I am up for everything.

We enjoy a lavish seafood lunch on board and everyone is still in high spirits, reflecting on the amazing trip. It’s a little clichéd to say “this was unforgettable” but that’s how we felt!
After lunch the junk returns to port before we again climb on board the helicopter and set off for the capital where we arrive at 2.30pm. It’s hard to believe we still have the whole afternoon ahead of us!


Lang Co Beach- One of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches

Situated on the central coast of Vietnam, which is famous for many beautiful beaches. Lang Co beach, since June 2009 has become an official member of the “World’s most beautiful bays” club. Today, it is a popular destination for tourists in Vietnam travel, especially for those who love beach so much.

Situated on the central coast of Vietnam, which is famous for many beautiful beaches. Lang Co beach, since June 2009 has become an official memnber of the “World’s most beautiful bays” club. Today, it is a popular destination for tourists in Vietnam travel, especially for those who love beach so much.

With the length of approximately 10km, Lang Co beach located in Lang Co town, Phu Loc district, Thua Thien- Hue province is next to the National Highway 1A and near Hai Van Pass. It is considered an ideal place for beach lovers. Situated on the central coast of Vietnam with many famous beautiful beaches, Lang Co with its gradually slopping, white sand, blue sea, and the average temperature of 25oC in the summer, is an attractive destination for both domestic and international tourists in Vietnam travel.

Lang Co beach

Most tourists joining tours in Vietnam are attracted to this beach because of its attractive natural landscape. Lying on the most beautiful curve of the country, Lang Co has almost everything that the nature can offer: green mountains and tropical forests, smooth white sand, full of sunshine and cool, blue and clear sea as crystal. It is the 3rd bay of Viet Nam, after Ha Long and Nha Trang named in the list of 30 most beautiful bays in the global.

So stunning, in the Nguyen Dynasty, the Royal Step-over Palace named Tinh Viem (abating the hot weather) had been built here for the king's family members. The French also left their traces here, related to the name of this land. Lang Co, it is probably derived from "Lang Co" (literally means Stork Village) or L 'An Cu (An Cu - Settle down) - its original names when the French pronounced as Lang Co. Nowadays, many modern resorts has been going to build here.

Lang Co beach

It can be said that nobody can resist a nature beauty like Lang Co town. This small and peaceful town will give you the most relaxing time and many games at the beach. In addition, you will have good time to enjoy the seafood with various kinds of shrimps, lobster, sea shrimp, crab, butter-fish, mackerel fish, oysters, etc and not far from the beach are some attractions such as Lang Co fishing Village, Chan May scenery.

Lying on the "Central Heritage Road", Lang Co is very close to other famous attractions such as the Imperial City of Hue, Hoi An Ancient Town, Son Tra Peninsula where the famous Son Tra Natural Reserve and beautiful beaches located, and so many more. The beauty of Lang Co Bay, Hai Van Pass, Bach Ma National Park and a fishing village in this area always attract many tourists in Vietnam tourism by a wonderful harmonious combination between human and nature.

Lang Co beach

It’s about 60km from the centre of Hue City but about 40km from Phu Bai International Airport to Lang Co beach. If visitors drive to Lang Co from Da Nang City through Hai Van Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Southeast Asia, the distance will be about 25km. However, the longer way, about 40km, is still the choice of many adventure lovers to drive on the pass to contemplate the beauty and majestic of Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Bay from above.

If you pay a visit to Hue, you should once visit Lang Co beach where you can have the most relaxing time and admire the natural beauty of landscapes.

Hue City - Imperial City

The Imperial City is located in the centre of the Citadel where established highest offices of Vietnam’s feudalism and sanctums honouring the cult of decreased Emperors.

The Citadel, also has a nearly square form, with more than 600m long for each side, built of brick 4m high, 1m thick, around which is ditched a system of protection trench. Access to the Imperial City can be made by four entrance gates. Ngo Mon Gate is only used for the King.

Royal Citadel consists of more 100 beautiful constructional works divided many sectors:

- Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel)
Located inside the Imperial City, behind the Throne Palace, the Forbidden Purple Citadel is reserved for Emperor and his family. Constructed early under reign of Emperor Gia Long in 1804, Tu Cam Thanh includes 50 architectural constructions of different sizes and 7 gates for facilities of entrance and exit.

Dai Cung Mon (the Great Palace Gate) is in the front side for the Kings. Can Chanh Palace (the place for daily working of Emperors). Can Thanh (Emperor’s Private Palace), Khon Thai Residence (Queen’s Private Apartment) reserved for the Queen. Duyet Thi Duong house (Royal Theatre), Thuong Thien (the kitchen for the Kings’ food), Thai Binh Lau (King’s reading room)…

- Pavilion of Edicts (Phu Van Lau)
Pavilion of Edicts is situated right in front of the Flag -Tower and by the National Highway No.1A which crosses Hue City. It is a delicate pavilion with a south view. In front of the Pavilion is a large court leading to the Nghinh Luong Pavilion (Pavilion for Fresh Air) on the Perfume River bank.

It is the building where Emperor’s edicts and lists of successful candidates of Thi Hoi (National Examination) and Thi Dinh (Court Examinations) were publicized. Though built early in Emperor Gia Long’s reign (1819), it was first decided by Emperor Minh Mang to be the site to publicly display his important edicts.
The pavilion was destroyed by a typhoon in 1904 and restored later by Emperor Thanh Thai.

- The Flag Tower
The Flag Tower, also called the King’s Knight, is the focal point of Hue City. It is commonly known as a flagpole, but viewed from the Imperial City; it is really a huge structure of three flat-top pyramids, one lying on top of another.

In feudal times, a yellow flag flapped everyday on top of the staff. It was replaced with a larger one on festive occasions (The Nam Giao Offering Ceremony, for example). Made of wool or velvet, this 4m by 3.6m flag was brocaded with a dragon design in its center and fringed with serrated lace.

- The Nine Dynastic Urns
Nine Dynastic Urns are located in the shade of the Hien Lam Pavilion, in front of the The Mieu Temple.
The nine Dynastic Urns are the greatest bronze ones in Vietnam They were cast by Emperor Minh Mang in 1836 to symbolize the sovereignty of the dynasty.

Each of them is named after the posthumous title of the emperors worshipped in the The Mieu Temple. For example, Cao Urn is named after Emperor The To Cao (Gia Long), Nhan Urn after Emperor Thanh To Nhan (Minh Mang), Chuong, Anh, Nghi, Tuyen and Thuan Urns after Emperors Thieu Tri, Tu Duc, Kien Phuoc, Dong Khanh and Khai Dinh respectively.

(Until 1958 only seven altars were established in The Mieu Temple corresponding to seven urns. Du and Huyen Urns did not exist yet).

 Principal Gate

- Principal Gate (Ngo Mon)
Principal Gate is located in front of the Throne Palace and facing the Flag Tower.
Ngo Mon is the main entrance to the Imperial City. Ngo Mon is a huge construction, U-shaped and consisting of two parts: below is a foundation made of brick, Thanh and Quang stone, above is a pavilion made of wood and roofed with tiles.

Throne Palace (Dien Thai Hoa) and Great Rites Court
Throne Palace (Dien Thai Hoa) faces the Ngo Mon Gate and lies right on the central axis of the Hue Citadel. The Throne Palace, or Palace of the Supreme Harmony, was the building for great court’s meetings. It was constructed in 1805 by Emperor Gia Long and used later in 1806 for his coronation.

- Dynastic Temple (The Mieu)
Dynastic Temple (The Mieu) is situated southwest of the Hue Citadel and facing south. It’s dedicated to ten Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, built by Emperor Minh Mang in 1821, it presents a 9 – compartment main building and a 11 – compartment front building, together connected in the “double” architecture with two bays on east and west sides.

- The Nine Holy Cannons

 The Nine Holy Cannons
These nine holy cannons are housed in two buildings beside the The Nhan and Quang Duc Miradors in the Citadel of Hue. Each cannon is 5.10m long and weights more than 10 tons. Their barrels are elaborately inscribed with the titles, position order, weight, instructions, and writings on fights against the Tay Son Dynasty.

- Hien Lam Pavilion
Hien Lam Pavilion (Pavilion of the Glorious Coming) is situated in the center of the Dynastic Temple’s courtyard, southwest of the Hue Citadel. Built in 1824 by Emperor Minh Mang, at the same time as the Dynastic Temple, Hien Lam Pavilion consists of three stories.

- Nam Giao Esplanade
Nam Giao Esplanade is located about 4km south of Hue City. Nam Giao Esplanade is an open-air monument. It was built based on the dogma of heaven fate of Confucianism and has architecture of both the religious and political significance of Oriental feudalism.

- Royal Library (Thai Binh Lau)
Royal Library is located in the Forbidden Citadel. The Royal Library was the only monument undamaged in the Forbidden Citadel after the reoccupation of Hue by French troops in early 1947. It is the pavilion where the Emperors Nguyen came for reading and resting.

Royal Theater (Duyet Thi Duong)
Royal Theater is located in the east of the Quang Minh Palace (Palace of Brightness) in the Forbidden Citadel. The Royal Theater was the oldest of Vietnamese traditional stage that remained. It was closed after the end of the monarchy (Jan 8th, 1945).

Bach Ma National Park in Hue City

Bach Ma National Park is approximately 50km south of Hue City.

It has a temperate climate much like that of Dalat, Sapa and Tam Dao. However, since it is located so close to the sea, the temperature in winter never goes below 4°C (39.2°F) and the highest temperature in summer never exceeds 26°C (79°F).

Given these advantages, the French transformed Bach Ma into a summer resort in the early 1930s. The area comprises 139 villas and auxiliary buildings, such as the post office, bank, tennis court, etc. Unfortunately, the war and lack of maintenance have significantly affected these constructions.

On 15 July 1991, the Bach Ma National Park was officially founded. Bach Ma has breath-taking natural landscapes and is a good place for camping, bathing, and outdoor activities.

Still, the beautiful National Park houses 931 species of animals of which 83 wildlife species, including tigers and monkeys. It is also home to 333-odd species of birds known to inhabit Vietnam. More than 1,406 species of plants have also been identified.

An Hien Garden House in Hue City

An Hien Garden House is located in Xuan Hoa Village, Huong Long Commune, Hue City on an area of 4,608m². An Hien Garden has been described as a fine, sharp, and unique work by many writers. In the garden, many kinds of flowers grow.

There are popular kinds of flowers such as jasmine, pergularia, pomegranate, sunflower, climbing rose and indigenous roses.

An Hien Garden House is a special cultural characteristic contributing to the beauty of Hue. Entering the garden, visitors will have a feeling of living in a miniature universe, in a peaceful and charming world. It has an attraction which is always secret as an unfinished book.

Hue City – World Cultural Heritage

Lying on the banks of Perfume ( Huong) river, Hue is an ancient capital of the Nguyen Dynasty ( 1805-1945) with a lot of historical and cultural monuments and famous landscapes. The Complex of Hue Monuments with unique architectural masterpieces were recognized as one of the World Cultural Heritages by UNESCO in 1993.

Besides tangible cultural heritages, Hue Court music, the first intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam, recognized as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. Hue cultural heritage marks a development period of the national culture with unique values of architect, art, music, manners and customs, traditional handicraft, cultural festivals, which create unique cultural identity of Vietnam.

World Cultural Heritage

Especially Hue city attracts tourist by tombs of kings of Nguyen Dynasty. Visiting Hue tourists may feel like as in a massive open- air museum with hundreds of temples, pagodas, palaces and tombs and this makes the sightseeing Hue one of the most exciting trip in Vietnam. Along with other World Heritages in the Centre of Vietnam, such as Quang Binh and Quang Nam, Hue Heritages have formed “The Central Heritage Road”.

Approximately 50km south of Hue, Bach Ma National Park with its breath-taking natural landscapes, 931 species of animals of which 83 wildlife species, 333-odd species of birds and 1,406 species of plants is a must see destination.

Best time to visit is between January to August when rainfall is minimal. Temperatures creep up towards August so if you’re a fan of the heat and are planning to spend some time on or under the water plan for a mid-year visit.

Thang Long Imperial Citadel

Thang Long

Thang Long
The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi is the archeological site of the old capital of Vietnam, which originated in 1010.
This makes it one of the oldest centers of power in the world that has been in use without interruption.

Most of the structures were destroyed in the 19th century and are now being restored. They form a unique synthesis of the influence of various
Asian cultures.

The site consists of two main parts:
- 18 Hoang Dieu Archeological site
- Citadel, including the Flag Tower, Doan Mon Gate, Kinh Tien Palace, the Dragon Steps, Hau Lau Palace, Bac Mon Gate.

Visit February 2011

This is a curious WHS, and I wonder how many westerners have visited it before its designation in 2010. The 2009 Lonely Planet Vietnam describes it as a "militairy base" and "closed to the public". News updates on the web that I had read up on before said that it had opened for a while last year, and then closed again for renovations. So I had no idea of what to expect when I set out to find it.
The entrance to the citadel, the main part of the WHS, turned out to be pretty inconspicuous: you surely would not go in if you weren't looking for it. It is located around the corner from the Red Flag Tower, and most signs pointing to it are in Vietnamese. While the nearby Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum sees thousands of domestic and foreign visitors a day, here I encountered only about a dozen Vietnamese. Entrance is free and a visit (at least my one did) lasts about an hour.
What you'll find here is a number of gates and buildings, all in yellow and most of them originating from the 19th century. The site is hard to date for our "Built in the xth century"-connection, as Thang Long's status as capital lasts from as early as 1010. Most structures here have been rebuilt however during the course of time.
I did not visit the Archeological Site, which is located across the street from the citadel. It has very limited opening hours (a couple of hours a day in weekends), and was closed when I arrived there.

Seeing the state of the remains, it is doubtful if this is a worthy WHS. Hanoi got this status last year as a present for its 1000th birthday, after a clever nomination from the Vietnamese. It compares itself to Nara (Japan) and Xi'an (China), but its remains are much less imposing. The lovely capital of Vietnam surely merits international attention though, especially for its Old Quarter (which is about 2 km away from the citadel).


Clyde (Malta):
I visited this WHS in February 2011. The highlight of my visit were the turtle stelae of the imperial citadel in the lower Red River Valley. This archaeological site reflects a unique SE Asian culture at the crossroads between China and Thailand.
Thibault Magnien (France):
The imperial city of Thang Long is situated in the historic center of Hanoi. Thang Long was actually the historic name of Hanoi before colonialism. It is composed of two sites; the first one is a complex comprising different nice buildings and the citadel with its famous tower. The other one, situated very close (cross the road), is an archeological park where buildings and antiquities are getting excavated. This place is interesting to see how people excavate things and how deep in the ground it can be. The imperial city has more than ten centuries of history and several dynasties used to live in. It was also welcoming ritual ceremonies.
The site is not well indicated. It is situated just close to the statue of Lenin, midway between the old quarter and Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. The entrance is free but take care of the time.
Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):
In 2008, I visited Hanoi with no expectation as my prime interest was the famous Ha Long Bay, but I also made a sightseeing tour to many places; apart from the beautiful Hoan Kiem pond in the city center, I also visited many temples such as Van Mieu, and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and its museum. I thought I had seen all the must see of Hanoi which in my opinion except Ho Chi Minh’s, the historic sites in Hanoi were just fine with no significant or unique.

When I saw the news that Hanoi Citadel became a WHS, I had to raise my eyebrows to question that “Am I able to count that I have been?” When I visited, the Citadel was still closed to the public as it was the military barrack and no tourist information, after checking with the nomination paper, the site was separated into two parts, the Citadel and the archeological zone. The only part of citadel I saw was the Flag Tower which actually just located next to the busy road to the Mausoleum with many tree blocking the view; however, for me the eye catching statue of Lenin opposite the Tower was much more interesting as its evidenced that I were in communist country.

The archeological site location was much more shocking, it was located next to the Ba Dinh Square, which is the Red Square of Hanoi, opposite the mausoleum of Uncle Ho, similar to the GUM with Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow! I only wondered who on earth will notice the existence of this archaeological site. Also the buffer zone of the citadel covered not only the mausoleum, but the museum, presidential palace or actually all important political places of Vietnam. The nomination document emphasized that the citadel was the political center of Vietnam in ancient time, with respect from the buffer zone map, the document should change to the citadel and its nearby area is still the political center of this country.

If we count buffer zone is a part of WHS area, seem to be that all tourists, who visit Ba Dinh Square, have visited WHS without notice the significant at all! However I was quite happy that at least I saw the flag tower which made me able to proudly say that I have been to the “Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi” even though I did not feel like I did it at all!
Have you been to Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi ? Share your experiences!

My Son Santuary listed in the World Heritage site

My Son Sanctuary is located in the Quang Nam province which is 69 Kilometers south-west of Danang. It was an imperial city during the Champa dynasty, a centre for spirituality and worship between the 4th and the 12th centuries.

My Son Santuary has been listed in the World Heritage site as well, for its exemplification of the heights of Cham architectural achievement and hence is one of the top Vietnam tourist attractions. My Son Santuary is a large complex of religious monuments comprised of more than 70 architectural works built by the nobility of the Champa Kingdom deriving their cultural and spiritual influences from Indian Hinduism.

Only 25 vestiges remain today as a standing witness to the reign of Chama Dynasty. These are temples and towers connected to each other through complicated red brick design to reflect the divinity of the king.

My Son Santuary has been listed in the World Heritage site

One of the most recognised of the Vietnam popular destinations, all temple towers in My Son Sanctuary were built on quadrate foundations each comprising three parts representing different aspect of religion.

The solid tower base represents the world of human being, the sacred and mysterious tower body represents the world of spirit and the tower top built in the shape of a man offering flowers or of trees and animals representing things close to spirits and human beings.

My Son Sanctuary,is a popular place for sightseeing in Vietnam. It is considered to be Champa’s counterpart to the grand cities of South-East Asia’s other Indian Influenced civilization like Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Lo Pagan in Myanmar among others.

Vietnam’s ancient city of Hoi An goes car free

BANGKOK: Vietnam’s ancient city of Hoi An in Quang Nam province has launched its first Car Free Day campaign on Sunday to coincide with its annual Nature Day.

The UNESCO’S world heritage site was the first city in Vietnam to run the campaign aimed at creating a healthier environment, Vietnam news agency VNA reported.

Campaign participants rode on bicycles and pedicabs around the city’s old quarter to raise awareness of environmental protection among locals and tourists.

“The campaign shows how committed the locals are to environmental protection. The city has successfully organised a pedestrian street in the old quarter since 2002 and has hosted the Nature Day in the last three years,” said Hoi An city’s People’s Committee deputy chairman, Nguyen Van Dung.

“We are honoured to be the first city in the country to join the Asian network of Car Free Day programmes. We hope the campaign will encourage people to use more environmentally friendly vehicles like bicycles and battery-powered bicycles and to walk more.”

The Car Free Day campaign started in La Rosshelle, France in 1997 and has attracted the participation of 2,268 cities in 40 countries.

Hoi An city has set up 13 sites for people to exchange used nylon bags for new reusable bags.

Sapa In Summer

Sapa is a famous tourist destination in the Northern Province of Lao Cai during the winter months when tourists flock to see the snow but summer months to offer interesting sites in this stunningly beautiful region.

The weather in Sapa during summer is very pleasant. The town is bathed in sunlight all throughout the summer months with occasional but very brief showers. Summer is the season for peaches, pears and plums. Tourists can visit lush fruit gardens on the hills.

Breathtaking waterfalls dot the landscape, like the spectacular Bac waterfall located about 12 km from Sapa town. Water gushes down from a high mountain creek resembling a spray of white shimmering flowers.

Warm, pleasant weather in the summer months makes it conducive to trek often inaccessible villages of the ethnic minority groups like the H’Mong, Dao and Tay and get a glimpse of their vibrantly rich, unique, indigenous and very traditional customs and culture.

The exquisite Ta Van valley offers tourists a glimpse of the lives of Giay people, untouched by modern civilization. Homes of the Giay people permeate a faint aroma of “pomu” wood.

Hue City - Danang - Hoian - My Son (5days/4nights)

Transfer to Noi Bai airport for a short flight to Hue. Pick - up and transfer to a hotel. In the afternoon, take a boat on the Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda, Hon Chen Temple and Minh Mang Tomb.

Detail Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi - Hue (../../..)  

Transfer to Noi Bai airport for a short flight to Hue. Upon arrival in Phu Bai Airport, we will pick up and transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, we take a boat on the Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda, Hon Chen Temple and Minh Mang Tomb. Hotel overnight in Hue.

Day 2: Hue – Da Nang (B/L/..)  

In the morning, we visit the tomb of Kinh Tu Duc, Khai Dinh and the Royal Citadel. After lunch, transfer to Danang (110km). On the way, we visit Lang Co Beach and stop over at Hai Van Pass, at the height of 500m, produces spectacular cloud formations and views of sprawling Danang to the south and picture perfect Lang Co Beach to the north. We visit also Cham Museum in Danang. Hotel overnight  in Danang.

Day 3: Da Nang – Hoi An Ancient Town (B/../..)  

In the morning, you will be free to explore Danang city. After that, we visit Marble Mountains, stone carving village of Non Nuoc, Danang White Sandy Beach and at leisure personal pursuit: relaxing or swimming on the beach. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Hoian (30km). Upon arrival in Hoi An, our driver will pick you up to the Hoian hotel for checking in a hotel.  Hotel overnight in Hoi An.

Day 4: Hoi An Ancient Town (B/L/..)  

Today, we will be free to explore Hoian Ancient Town with out tour guide. Explore the ancient narrow lanes of Hoi An. You can visit historic temples, old house of Tan Ky, Japanese Covered bridge, Phuc Kien assembly Hall and Thu Bon river.  Hotel overnight in Hoi An.

Day 5: Hoi An – My Son Holy Land - Departure from Da Nang (B/../..)

After breakfast, we will travel on rural roads to My Son Holy Land (55km), where explore the architectural treasure and sculptures of Cham dating from the 7th to the 13th century. After that we will transfer to Da Nang airport for departure flight.

Tour included:

- Hotel accommodation in shared twin rooms

- Private transfers

- English speaking tour guide.

- Entrances fees and sightseeing as indicated.

- Meals as specified in the program (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

- Boat trips in Hue and Hoi An

Tour excluded:

- Beverages

- Visa arrangements

- Bank transfer fees

- Personal expenses

- Other services are not mentioned above

Thank you so much for choosing our services and see you in the next trip!!!

Phong Nha-Ke Bang, National Park – a fabulous Heaven Land

The Nature has awarded Vietnam a fabulous Wonder with grandiose green tropical jungles, nice & mysterious caves & grottoes, and the Asia’s oldest limestone mountains.., that is, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Geographical Location 

Phong Nha - Ke Bang (or Vườn quốc gia Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng in Vietnamese) is a huge national park located in Bo Trach and Minh Hoa Districts of central Quang Binh Province, in north-central Vietnam. The National Park is about 500 kilometers south of the nation's capital, Hanoi. The park was created to protect one of the world's two largest karst regions with around 300 caves and grottoes, and the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range. The core zone of this national park covers 85,754 hectares, which are divided into three zones, a "strictly protected zone" (64,894 km²), an "ecological recovery zone" (17,449 km²), and an "administrative service zone" (3,411 km²). The plateau is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia.
Like the North-central (or Bac Trung Bo) in general and Quang Binh Province in particular, the climate in this national park is tropical, hot, and humid. The annual mean temperature is 23 to 25°C, with a maximum of 41°C in the summer and a minimum of 6°C in the winter. Annual rainfall is 2,000 mm to 2,500 mm, and 88% of the rainfall is from July to December. With more than 160 rainy days per year, no month is without rain. Mean annual relative humidity is 84%. The typical tropical climate has helped build up a pure atmosphere of the green ecological environment, ideal for any visitor. 

Formation History
Formation: The Phong Nha–Ke Bang karst has evolved since the Paleozoic (some 400 million years ago) and so is the oldest major karst area in Asia. Like much of Vietnam, it has been subject to extensive tectonic changes, thus the limestones of Phong Nha are inter-bedded with a number of other rocks. There is also strong evidence that sulphurous solution and hydrothermal action have played an important role in shaping the broad-scale landscape and the caves.Historical name: The park deprives it name from Phong Nha cave, the most beautiful of all, containing many fascinating rock formations, and Ke Bang forest. One has explained that Phong Nha means “Wind and teeth” based on Chinese transcription, which expresses the blowing wind inside the cave and teeth-like rough stalagtites. There have been several other ways of explanation, yet none is more popular than this.
People now flock to this National Park for contemplating the UNESCO-recognized world natural beauty, and also for directly witnessing the fabulous rock formations inside the caves. 

A nature-gifted magnificient landscape: 7 best in one
Phong Nha-Ke Bang park takes pride in the assessment of containing “7 best things” as a result of a National Science Conference held in Quang Binh in April, 1997. They are:
1. The longest water cave
2. The highest and widest cave mouth
3. The widest and most beautiful sand & rock bank
4. The most beautiful underground lake
5. The most magnificient and miraculous stalactite
6. The nation’s longest underground river (around 13,969 m)
7. The nicest and widest dry cave
It is certain that when one goes on a bout around this beautifully miraculous zone, he may be surprised and feel that he were lost in somewhere in the Heaven where he does not want to leave at all! So now let’s take a round trip to try this fabulous feeling!

Let’s tour!
Rivers & Streams
Phong Nha is such a beautiful landscape that you may have to hold your breath on contemplating. Here are the charming Son and Chay Rivers, (the two longest underground ones in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang), gently flowing in the middle of the two sides’ reed and green bamboo rows. Most of the caves here have been shaped by those two rivers. The Son River flows into the mouth of the Phong Nha cave, which is the only point where it emerges in around 20 kilometeres. Also, there are more than ten spectacular streams, springs and waterfalls in Phong Nha-Ke Bang area, namely Gió waterfall, Madame Loan & Chài waterfall, Mọc stream erupting from a limestone mount range, and Trạ Ang stream. Far far away can you see the enchanting pure Bong Lai Lake and Chai waterfall, adorned with a number of dark violet “bằng lăng” flower baskets blooming in the warm weather. Some tourists ever uttered: “Wow! Heaven!” since the scenery is so much romantic and marvellous!

Limestone Mountains
The Park also contains two dozens of mighty limestone mountains with over 1,000 m in height. Some of the most noteworthy peaks are the Co Rilata Peak with the height of 1,128 m and the Co Preu Peak with a height of 1,213 m. Non-karstic topograhical area accounts for a low percentage, distributing mainly in outer circle of limestone in the north, northeast and southeast of this national park. The height of these summits varies from 500-1000  m with the deep divisions. The grandiosity and uniqueness of the limestone mountain ranges that only can be found in Phong Nha-Ke Bang is of great attraction to tourists.

It’s now time to explore the zone in its rich Flora-Fauna composition. The Ke Bang primary jungles have been home to 98 families, 256 genera and 381 species of vertebrates, many of which are listed in the Vietnam and World's Red Book. If you are bold enough, you can go further into jungles to see by yourself these lively rare animals, Gecko, Macaque, White-cheeked Crested Gibbon, Hatinh and Black Lagur, Mainland Serow, Giant Muntjac, Saola, Bear, Bull, and so forth. Watching them closely and directly is somehow thrilling but extremely interesting!
Besides, for those fond of plants, it’s good news that the tropical jungles have a huge number of tropical trees, grass, bush on limestone rocks and soil mounts, sindora trees, rattan and bamboo forest, and the nation’s greatest Calocedrus rupestris. It has 140 families, 427 genera, and 751 species of vascular plants, of which 36 species are listed in the Vietnam's Red Data Book. 

Visiting Phong Nha Cave
Penetrating to a distance of 1,500 m inside Phong Nha Cave, tourists may go from surprise to surprise! Phong Nha - Kẻ Bàng is
also named “Kingdom of Caves”. Up to now, there are more than 300 caves that have been discovered, and still continuously shaped by the Chay River. The Son River flows into the mouth of the cave and keeps flowing underground, where it is referred to as the Nam Aki River. The main Phong Nha cave comprises 14 chambers, connected by an underwater river that runs for 1.5km. Notable caves and grottos of Phong Nha are Phong Nha Cave (Hang Phong Nha), Dark Grotto (Hang Tối), E Grotto (Hang E), Cha An Grotto (Hang Chà An), Thung Grotto (Hang Thung), En Grotto (Hang Én), Khe Tien Grotto (Hang Khe Tiên), Khe Ry Grotto (Hang Khe Ry), and Khe Thi Grotto (Hang Khe Thi). The most famous one is Phong Nha cave, which has been considered as “First-ranking Cave Wonder” for its world’s most beautiful stalactites and longest rivers by the Brishtish Royal Geography Association. Sitting on your boat along the Son River into the Cave, listening to the wind whistling as if in a Cathedral, you may be unable to return! As you get farther into the cave, the more illusory the stalactites and stalagmites look as they glitter when bright light is shone on them.  Here you can contemplate the splendid landscape of the ancient huge teeth-like stalactites falling and stalagmites roughly rising. The stalactite brilliant light stretches throughout the cave as a beautiful silk full of colors.
Each of the cave contains its own mysterious and miraculous secrets of the eternal dark Caves, stimulating and absorbing tourists to come and discover by themselves!

World recognition
Honorably recognized to be the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has brought in a great pride for not only the locals but also all the Vietnamese. The reason for being recognized is that it meets criteria viii “outstanding geological, geomorphical, and geographical values”. This year, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has submitted to UNESCO second time for recognition as a world natural heritage for biodiversity.
Besides, in the “7 New World Natural Wonders” voting, Phong Nha-Ke Bang has been one among 3 sites of Vietnam (together with Ha Long Bay and Fanxipan) to be in the candidate list. Though the final results are to be given at the end of the year, in the announcement of the New7Wonders at 6 a.m on February 22nd, 2008 (Vietnamese time), Phong Nha-Ke Bang was ranked second (to Ha Long Bay) in the list of 77 world natural wonders. Ever since the significant moment of being on this list, the National Park has attracted a much greater number of visitors from all over the world!

How to get there?
If you are in Hanoi, the best way to get to the site is by train, the Thong Nhat one. After arrival at Dong Hoi station, you could travel by road or by sea. Both are easy to use, yet the latter could bring you the realistic understanding of a riverside life. 

Tourist activities
  • Tour for expedition of caves and grottos in boats and with professional cave expedition means.
  • Ecotourism, discovering the flora and fauna in this national park in the Ke Bang Forest.
  • Mountain climbing: There are extreme sloping mountains here with a height of over 1,000m, which is a real challenge for adventurous climbers.  

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam

For many Baby Boomers, a visit to Vietnam represents both a cultural exploration and a reconciliation of political beliefs from the 1960’s.  It can be voyage of discovery, exploration of history, an answer to long unanswered questions, and the turning of a new page on a country deeply embedded in US history.
One way to learn more about the country is a visit to one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are included on Vietnam tours. There are four cultural and two natural sites on the list.

Hue Vietnam

Hue City, in Central Vietnam, is the former capital of the country (until 1945), and is the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual center of Vietnam.  The city is packed with pagodas, temples, citadel and royal tombs, or at least what remains of them, all blended into the incredible natural landscape. Here you’ll find the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the Inner City.  Hue became a cultural world heritage site in 1993.

Halong Bay is a collection of over 1,300 islands and islets in the Gulf on Tonkin, and was once the residential place of the ancient Viet people. The islands form a seascape of limestone pillars, and most are uninhabited and unspoiled by a human presence.  The area is rich is bio-diversity, with  multiple eco-systems. Ha Long Bay became a natural world heritage site in 1994.

Hoi An, an ancient town in Quang Nam Province, dates back to the 16-17th centuries when it was a busy commercial port.  The architecture of the trading port is still largely intact, and you’ll see houses, pagodas, temples, bridges, wells, markets, and other buildings. The city is closed to cars, allowing visitors to walk or bike in the charming historic town, and despite its ancient ties, it boasts a remarkably urban lifestyle. Hoi An became a cultural world heritage site in 1999.

My Son Sanctuary Ruines

My Son Sanctuary, located in a valley in Quang Nam Province, is home to the remains of one of the most important Hindu sanctuaries in the country, including 70 shrines and towers. Between the 4th and 13th centuries this dramatic site was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom.  My Son became a cultural world heritage site in 1999.

Phong Nha-Ke Banq National Park in the Quang Binh Province is a natural reserve with limestone tectonics, over 300 caves (it is known as the “kingdom of caves”), the world’s longest subterranean river, , and a rich diversity of flora and fauna.  These spectacular formations can be traced back some 400 million years. Phong Nha-Ke Banq National Park became a natural world heritge site in 2003.

Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating back to the 7th century. It was the regional center of political power for nearly 13 uninterrupted centuries.  The buildings and remains reflect the unique Southeast Asian culture of the Red River Delta and Valley.  The Imperial Citadel became a cultural world heritage site in 2010.

Of course, there’s much more to see, do, and experience during your time in Vietnam. But if history and culture are on you list of things to do, you’ll find plenty of Indochina tours that can deliver just what you’re looking for.

Halong Bay

Perhaps one of the most iconic features of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a breathtaking location like no other. With as many a 2,000 limestone islands and rocks, covered with wildlife and filled with caves and grottoes, its UNESCO world heritage status is well deserved.

A place that must be seen to be seen to be believed, Halong Bay has risen to become one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations, and is likely to be voted #1 in the New 7 Wonders Of the World.

Most visitors get a bus to Halong from Hanoi, before embarking on a boat trip of 2-3 days, where they can sleep on a junk boat, swim in the waters and go kayaking or canoeing. The quality of tour does vary (you do get what you pay for!) but even the bargain trips aren't bad, as you can quite happily spend your day looking at the beautiful scenery and ignoring the less beautiful boat you're sat on.

Don't be put off when you first arrive in Halong by the sheer number of tourists - most of the tours set off at the same time and it will appear very crowded, but soon after leaving the docks the boats split up and head off in different directions - it may not seem it at first but it soon becomes a very peaceful journey as its not hard for the boats to hide behind one of the thousands of islands.

One interesting feature of Halong bay is the floating villages you will see nestling in the sheltered bays between the stones. These ingenious construction allow landless people to farm fish - each house will be built on planks bordering nets where they raise fish, crabs and shrimp in the sea water below.

Cruises and Tours of Halong Bay

For most people, taking an organised cruise from Hanoi to Halong Bay is a better option than staying in Halong City, where entertainment is sparse.