Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Landscapes of Dalat highlands

Dalat, a highland city about 257 km in from the coast, reminded us of Toowoomba. It has the cooler temperatures and the red rich soil that has made the area a huge production area for coffee, vegetables and flowers.

This town was also at one time the town where the French escaped the sweltering summer months along the coast to enjoy the cooler highland air. As a result it has many beautiful homes and hotels.

In the Dalat highlands

On a long walk around the town we saw a number of the 2500 lovely houses the town is famous for. It is quite amazing the place developed so much as even now the road we took in the bus from the coast is a very narrow winding road in fairly poor condition.

Dr Alexander Yersin, a protégé of Louis Pasteur apparently spread the word to Europeans about the liveability of the town in the summer months. The town was also spared damage in the Vietnam War as officials of both sides were still using their villas here for relaxation. Emperor Bao Dai’s Summer Palace is in a pine forest here and is not far from the tacky ‘Crazy House’ a guest house designed by a Vietnamese woman from Hanoi who did her architecture degree in Russia.

The building is like a tree, and rooms are decorated in various styles eg the Bear Room has a large bear with glowing eyes. Not the best place to sleep, especially as you would have to be up and out early before the paying sightseers arrive…

In the Dalat highlands

The coffee farm was first. I didn’t know that Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee, Brazil produces the most and Columbia comes after Vietnam. The French started the plantations. We were shown three types of coffee plants – the older type ‘cherry’ trees, which are tall and not handy for picking etc, and then ‘Robusta’ and Arabica’. They didn’t tell us so but I read that currently they mostly grow Robusta beans which are not as good a quality as the Arabica, so they are starting to change over.

In the Dalat highlands

Last stop was Elephant Falls. Our guide told us a tale of a prince and princess who wanted to marry but were from different ethnic group. As marriage was impossible (this is the Romeo and Juliet story) they killed themselves. The elephants living here heard the story and their tears made the waterfall. We had to walk/climb down a precarious track of steps and rocks with rusted out railings at a few points.

We made it up and back but a bit scary. Occupational health and safety not very developed here. It was however much better than the falls we visited in town. Cam Ly Falls turned out to be a polluted canal type stream that flowed through a small amusement type park. We did see our first ‘horses painted as zebras ‘here however so that was a new experience.

Soon it is our last night in Dalat. For dinner we had a Beef Hotpot where a pot of stock was put over a little burner on the table, and we gradually added and then ate the thin beef slices, green vegetables, herbs and noodles. No complaining about the food in Dalat.
Jannettek (From Australia)

Da Mi Lake – Beauty of princess sleeping in forest

Coming to Da Mi Lake, tourists can contemplate both the romantic and poetic sences and the peaceful space.

Located in Ham Thuan Bac of Binh Thuan province, Da Mi town is known as the land of romantic and poetic scenes that is similar to the landscapes of Da Lat highland.  And one of those most attractive destinations of Da Mi town that any tourist coming here even once also has unforgettable memories is Da Mi Lake.


Nestled in the immense forest of Da Mi, Da Mi Lake is considered as the princess sleeping in the tranquil and peaceful space. Indeed, in the mild sunshine together with cool climate here, maybe no one can takes his eyes off the charming beauty of Da Mi Lake which is a vast smooth expanse of water with the area of 700 ha surrounded by undulating pristine mountains and covered by the green wild forests. 

Coming here, tourists will have very real interesting experiences about the rustic and simple life of locals. Specifically, tourists can live on the stilt houses to enjoy the idyllic taste of some fishing specialties. Or excursionists can take rest at the wooden bridge across Da Mi Lake to contemplate its grandiose and poetic landscapes.

It is said that not only Da Mi Lake but the beauty of Ham Thuan Lake, which consists of 8 small beautiful islands as well. Especially, tourists shouldn’t miss to explore the imposing beauty of the 9-layers waterfall, cloud waterfall, and rainy waterfall. 

And another special feature of this town is the S -shape of all small green rivers here, which likes the shape of Vietnam. Thus, many tourists comment that Da Mi Lake and some other destinations of Da Mi town are the natural beauties touching to every hearts.


Stork island in Chi Lang Nam - Hai Duong

The stork island is located in Chi Lăng Nam commune, Thanh Miện district and stays about 25km far from Hải Dương city, Vietnam. Its pen name is An Dương by nature. It is called the stork village because the village has a small island located in the middle of broad lake with ten thousands of storks and herons residing and nesting. With an area of more than 3,000m2, the stork island is home to 15,000 storks and more than 5,000 herons of various kinds and such rare and precious birds as pelicans and teals residing together.
Photo: Đức Linh
Located in the middle of vast lake, the stork island emerges as a pearl endowed by the nature for Chi Lăng Nam. The local residents still tell each other the legend for this land. It is said that at the beginning of the 15th century, deluges broke the large dyke along the Red River for three consecutive times. At the second breakage, an island emerged in the middle of the lake. Then, "birds perch good land", each herd of storks, herons and water birds come here from everywhere. With the time, storks and herons residing in the island are more and more crowded in the quantity and diversified in species.

From September to April every year, most storks can be seen with up to ten thousands of storks and thousands of herons perching in close proximity to one another on the bamboo tops and tree branches like flowers filled with white cotton from a remote view. They get together to nest, lay eggs and nurse their babies. The tourists are more excited to see young storks with immature legs on soft bamboo branches. When the sunset is let down, the storks return home.

They fly into herds, each herd including 50 to 70 storks, even hundreds of storks creating true white curtains on the trees in the island. After flying for many times covering the whole lake space, they land safely on the green clump of trees in the middle of vast sea in the glow of sunset. It is followed by spans of the herons pending search for food at night. The tourists will witness an interesting "chorus" of families of storks and herons. The stork island is excited with sound like a natural chorus tearing a quite atmosphere of a Vietnamese village.

Tourists who come to the stork island in the season need only one day to visit the whole island. A small boat that is arranged so as not to disturb living environment of the storks will slowly take the tourists around the lake and see the life of storks. However, if the tourists expect to watch the live of storks more carefully, please stay overnight on the stork island. From 9.00 to 10.00, the storks come back most. The family reunion also starts from this time to the next morning. At that time, the tourists will have more time to study the life of storks on the island.

The harmonious intercalation between trees, birds and lake together with fresh, ventilated tropical weather as well as such historical and cultural monuments as temples, pagodas and traditional trade villages such as fish nursery, rice pancake, decorative plant, Chi Lăng Nam has full factors to become a typical ecological tourist area for the North Vietnam village. Hải Dương Tourism has made the tour on Chi LăngNam stork island a new tourist product of the province.

Lai Chau – A beautiful mountainous land

As far as 450 kilometers from the capital, there locates a highland in northwest Vietnam, namely Lai Chau (Province). This complex of plateaus is situated at the altitude of 1,500m above sea level, comprising  high mountains, pure streams and rivers.

It shares borderline with Yun Nan province (China) in about 273 km to the North, Son La, Dien Bien to the west and south, and Lao Cai to the east. Accordingly, the town has a similar weather to Sapa (Lao Cai), being cool and mostly foggy all the year round, making it a visionary land in between mountains. The annual average temperature is from 21oC – 23oC, with two seasons, hot-rainy and dry-cold seasons. The whole province’s area is about 9,071 sq. Km, with a population of only 325,000 people.


Tourists coming to Lai Chau may choose between following the main road, the national 12th highway (from Dien Bien Phu town to Ma Lu Thang border gate in Lai Chau), or the 4D road (from Sapa to Lai Chau).

Natural beauty & sight-seeings
Lai Chau is said to be the land of Ban and Dao flowers (hoa ban & hoa đào), the unique ones of jungles, which attract and inspire thousands of artists. Yet, most of all, as the nation’s highest mountainous region, the beauty of Lai Chau is structured by the high mountain ranges stretching from the Northwest to the southeast. It shares the Fansipan Mount – top of the Vietnam’s highest mountain range (Himalaya)- with Sapa (in Lao Cai). With the height of 3,143m, Fansipan is not only the highest in Vietnam but also in the Indochina peninsula, being considered “the roof of Indochina”. Among others, some plateaus such as Sin Ho, Ta Phinh, Dao San, etc. are even higher than 1,500m, thus being covered in cloud, fog, and purely cool atmosphere all the time.

Apart from high mountains, Lai Chau is also rich in narrow valleys, beautiful rivers and springs. The longest and largest river in the province is Da river. These together with others, such as Nam Na, Nam Mu flowing between the ranges, make several roaring and white frothy waterfalls in the quiet forests. One amongst the most popular waterfalls is Tac Tinh, which is higher than 50m with 2 classes, and frequently full of water flows, bringing a magnificient picture of natural beauty. Taking a boat along Da River, no visitor could help keeping eyes on the very fine landscapes, namely the roofs made of black stones, and mountains in clouds. The fanciful villages of ethnic minorities on the banks of the River are gathering in a picturesque scenery. For those fond of health-care elements, there are some hot and mineral water springs scattering in the province, for examples, Van Bo (in Phong Tho District), Na Dong, Na Don (Tam Duong), and some other hydroelectricity lakes. 

Can you imagine that the caves and grottoes in the mountain ranges in the area still remain their original states, such as Binh Lu and Tien Son grottoes, which are no doubt the magic beauties of nature! Moreover, there exists a thousands-of-hectare forest, in the 6 km southwest of Lai Chau town, consisting of more than ten original caves. All of those are truly beautiful with sparking brightness and varied shaped stalactites and stalagmites. Thanks to this gifted scenery, the area is called “Phong Nha Grotto of the Northwest”.

Historical relics
People take interest in Lai Chau not only because of its natural beauty, but also of its historical relics. One amongst them is Deo Van Long’s Palace located in Sin Ho District, which the palace of Thai King under the French colony. The palace, covered by the Thai-style architectural features, is also a place for educating the youth of national love. The second-ranking one is Le Loi’s stele, which was sculptured and set up on Da River bank, unveiling the story of Le Loi’s defeating an upraising troop in the Northwest, keeping the nation’s security. Also, there are some relics of ancient Viet people such as bronze drum and bronze tools, which are vestiges of the Eastern Culture.

People & Custom

The natural landscape is the accommodation of more than 20 ethnic minorities. Most of them are Thai people (33.5%), H’mong people (23.6%), Dao (14.4%) and Viet or Kinh people (11.2%), Ha Nhi people (5.6%) and some others. And there are two groups, who only live in Lai Chau, that is, Mang and La Hu people. Lots of ethnic people still keep their unique original tradition and custom, making the local culture diversified and worth a study. 

What makes Lai Chau worth remembering is its various customs of each tribe, which has its own culture of funeral, wedding, worshipping, and so forth. The mentioned market is the most significant activity in life, which take place in the Thursday and Sunday morning. People from many tribes get together here in colorful clothes early in the foggy morning. Seen from above, the market looks like a flower with thousands of colors. The goods to be transacted are the local specialties, such as chickens, pork, honey, rice, tea, etc. Somebody says : “If you would like to figure out the unique local market, you must join one, which reveals the ethnic minority and mountainous life culture in clarity and details.

Festivals are one among the most activities of Lai Chau in particular and mountainous regions’ in general. The most popular one in Lai Chau is “Hoa Ban festival”, which reflects the cultural and spiritual life of Thai people. In the second lunar month of the year, when it gets warmer and “hoa ban” (the significant kind of flower in the Northwest area), blossoms, “Hoa Ban festival” is celeberated. This is time for boys and girls to meet and get to know each other. The boy picks up the most beautiful flower and put it in his girlfriend’s hair. The girl hides under the fresh leaves. This is not only the time for love but also for Thai people to pray for good crops, happiness, expressing their gratitude to ancestors. The festival is always full of songs and prays.
Another famous festival is “Han khuong festival”, which takes place in spring. Once again, this is an opportunity for boys and girls to get to know each other by singing and dancing. “Han” means stage, “Khuong” means yard. When the festival starts, young, beautiful and unmarried girls sing love songs on the stage. Then, the boys sing songs for response. At the same time, they can look for a person who can share their feelings and then come, sit together and talk. After that, they date, and wait for the next appointment. And can you guess? After the festival, many couples get married. For old people, that is the time for memories.
“Gau Tao festival” – “spring traveling”, a festival of H’mong people, is held every spring. After Lunar New Year festival, couples go to the market just for spending time together. The boys play “Khen”, a kind of musical instrument for one another.

Lai Chau is exactly a captivating and typical mountainous land, absorbing huge numbers of tourists widespread. If you are interested in ethnic minority culture, you should really take part in a market or festival of Lai Chau, which unveils the mountainous culture in the way of a “love-blossoming” land!

Sunshine Valley - A tourist destination in Vietnam Travel

Located nearby Bich Dong pagoda, Thung Nang or Sunshine Valley is a complex of historical relics and natural beauty which can make easy to get the combination of religious tourism with mountain climbing and ecological tourism.
Located in Dan Khe village, Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province, Thung Nang or Sunshine Valley is a new tourism route that connects Bich Dong with Voi Dai temple, thung Nang valley, Nang grotto, and trekking trail to Doi Nham Resort. Thung Nang Valley is a complex of historical relics and natural beauty which can organize some types of tourism: Religion tourism, Eco tourism, sightseeing, grottoes discovery, mountain climbing, etc.

Thung Nang valley is the in the middle of the Limestone Mountains covered by trees that seem to have some hidden charms that need tobe discovered. On the way to Thung Nang Valley, we have to go by boat about 3,5 kilometers to visit the holy Voi temple that was built hundreds of years ago. The temple was built of stone with stone altar, stone incense throne, stone flower vase and stone a tray.

Thung Nang or Sunshine Valley

Visitors in Vietnam travel will climb up a valley of never – ending green fields that will make spectacular colors when the sunshine shines throuth clouds. Sounds of clear birdsongs make this isolating space more heavenly.
Traveling to Ninh Binh - Sunshine Valley can not be ignored by tourists in joining tours in Vietnam. Here, visitors will have the opportunity to close with the pristine natural landscapes and also get the chance to learn more about the lives of farmers, still keeping the simple and hospitable lifestyle of northern plain.