Asia Pacific Travel Team
Hue is famous for its royal relics and also for its romantic scenery. The Huong (Perfume) river and Ngu mountain typify Hue’s romanticism.
Hue people say it is the Huong (Perfume) river that makes Hue beautiful and romantic. The 80-km river begins in the Truong Son range, zigzags through the mountains, crosses Hue city, and flows through the Tam Giang lagoon emptying into the Thuan An estuary.
The river was called Linh Giang, Thien Tra, Dai Giang, Huong Tra, Lo Dung, Dinh, and Yen Luc before it was named the Huong (Perfume) river.
Hue researcher Phan Thuan An said, “There have been different theories about the origin of the name Huong river. I lean toward the name Huong Tra, the name of a local district because a river often bears the name of an area that it runs through. Previously, Phu Xuan-Hue belonged to the Huong Tra district, so I think they named the river after the district. They might have called it Huong Tra and later shortened it to Huong”.
There’s another theory that the river owes its name to the fact that it flows through many forests of aromatic plants before reaching Hue, bringing with it a fresh aroma.
The river flows through a series of scenic spots, taking visitors traveling by boat to every corner of the ancient citadel. Tourists visit Da Vien, Phu Xuan, and Truong Tien bridge, the Tomb of Minh Mang, Hon Chen Shrine, Thien Mu Pagoda, and finally to go for a swim and enjoy seafood at Thuan An beach. Upstream, at the Tomb of Thien Tho, the sound of rustling pine trees may inspire you to create poem!
When night comes, the surface of the river glistens the moonlight, and only the songs of the boat rowers breaks the silence. Possibly the most popular attraction in this romantic city, a boat ride on the Huong river is included in most Hue city tours or day trips.
Ngu Binh Mountain is another gift of nature, that teams up with the Huong river as a symbol of Hue. People often call Hue- the Huong River- Ngu Binh Mountain area. Ngu Binh Mountain, also known as Ngu Mountain, Hon Mo, or Bang mountain stands 105 meters high on the right bank of the Huong river. It is about 4 kilometers south of Hue city. Ngu Binh is flanked by two smaller mountains: Ta Phu Son and Huu Bat Son.
The mountains are covered with pine forests which are green all year round. Many tourists come here to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Hoang Thi Bich Hanh, a guide with Sinhcafe Tourist, said “On a nice day, from Ngu Binh Mountain, you can see the whole city with the sparking palace, ancient pagoda and the peaceful Huong River. From here, you can see the hills, pine forests and vast plains of Huong Thuy, Phu Vang and Huong Tra district and farther off the Truong Son range- a breathtaking picture”.
A green sight-seeing tour was launched at Tram Chim National Park in Tam Nong District, the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, on August 22.
According to Le Hoang Long, Director of the Tourism and Environmental Education Centre of Tram Chim National Park, it is an eco-friendly tour as visitors will be able to enjoy a ride around the park on an electric car and a solar-powered boat while making no engine noise that can disrupt the wildlife here.
The centre piloted the tour by using four electric cars, which can run at a speed of 30 kilometres per hour, and one 15-kilometres-per-hour solar-powered boat. The boat was created by four local farmers living in Thap Muoi district.
The tour takes the visitors approximately 35 minutes and costs 700,000 VND (about 31 USD) to serve a maximum of 12 people each round.
The centre plans to put into use other six solar-powered boats and twelve electric cars in the coming time alongside several extra services to better serve travellers.
Established in 1985, the 7,313-hectare Tram Chim became a national park in 1998 and then the fourth Ramsar site in Viet Nam.
The park’s plentiful green vegetation is inhabited by more than 130 species of higher plants featuring six main types of floristic societies.
Water life in the park is also bustling seeing the presence of over 150 species of freshwater fish, with some listed in Viet Nam’s Red Book like clown feather-back fish, common archerfish and giant barbs, nearly 180 algae species, 26 epifauna species, 350 species of plankton and 34 species of amphibian.
Tram Chim is home to 198 bird species, including 16 rare ones such as red-headed cranes, black-faced spoonbills, black eagles, great-billed herons and spotted-billed pelicans. It was recognised as an important bird sanctuary in Viet Nam.
The number of fauna and aquatic species in Tram Chim National Park surpass those in other wetland reserves in the region, like Tra Su cajeput forest reserve in An Giang Province and U Minh Ha National Park in Ca Mau Province.
In the dry season, canoes bring tourists to travel along small canals from which they can spot 1.5-metre-tall cranes, herons with wings of over one metre and long-necked darters seeking food.
Southern Dong Nai province’s tourism sector is determined to boost promotion campaigns, invest in infrastructure and improve the quality of services to draw more tourists to the locality.
In a working session with the province’s steering committee on tourism development, Nguyen Thanh Tri, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said tourism is one of the province’s key economic sectors under a modified overall plan on Dong Nai’s social-economic development through to 2020 with a vision to 2025, which has been approved by the Prime Minister.
Therefore, in the near future, the province would develop infrastructure projects in order to facilitate the accessibility to tourism sites and call for investors to invest in planned tourist projects, said Tri.
The province would focus on the development of some major tourist sites to make them appealing to both domestic and international visitors, he added.
Dong Nai hopes to welcome 2.9 million tourists in 2015 and to raise the number to 6 million by 2020.
Dong Nai currently has 21 tourist sites, and enterprises have invested more than three trillion VND in upgrading and renovating facilities at tourist sites.
Le Van Danh, Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, said with a considerable number of beautiful sites, the number of tourists visiting the province should have been more impressive.
Cua Van, a fishing village in the northern province of Quang Ninh, has been named one of the "11 insanely beautiful small towns from around the world" by online US newspaper The Huffington Post.
The newspaper said "located six hours from Ha Noi, this 700-person floating fishing village in Ha Long Bay is stunning, thanks to teal water, colorful raft houses, limestone hills and winding streets."
Some of the other towns in the list are Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia, Bled in Slovenia, Franschhoek in South Africa, and Anneccy in France.
Vingroup, known for launching Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort, Vinpearl Premium, Vinpearl Golf, and the Vinmec International Hospital will also be launching the islands very first Zoo called the “Vinpearl Safari Zoo”.
The 500 hectare zoo will be located in Ganh Dau and Cua Can Village and it will be modeled after the zoos found in Thailand and Singapore. There will be 130 species and approximately 1,500 animals. The Safari Zoo will have themed areas including Africa, India and Australia initially, alongside Animal shows, Discovery Center and themed visitor areas. The Phu Quoc Zoo is slated to be the 2nd largest in the world.
The Prime Minister has decided to establish Du Gia National Park on the Dong Van karst plateau in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang.
The 15,000 ha park, which is formed by merging the Du Gia nature reserve and Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area, spreads over three communes of Tung Ba (Vi Xuyen district), Minh Son (Bac Me district) and Du Gia (Yen Minh district).
The zoned area is to protect the local ever-green eco-system and rare and endangered animals and plants, while preserving protection forests in Gam River basin, contributing to stabilising agricultural and industrial production in the area.
Additionally, the park is expected to boost eco-tourism, raise locals’ awareness of environment protection and facilitate scientific research in the area.
The park has a 8,850ha buffer zone across six communes in districts of Yen Minh, Bac Me, Vi Xuyen and Quan Ba.
The PM has assigned the provincial People’s Committee to manage the park and design a development project for the park and its buffer zone.
From Sept. 24 – 29, the Culture and Tourism Week of Mu Cang Chai terraced field 2015 will take place under the theme “Golden Season on Mountains”.
The event aims to celebrate the 58th anniversary of the establishment of Mu Cang Chai District (October 18) as well as to introduce the beauty of Mu Cang Chai terraced field, local people, culture and tourism potential to domestic and international visitors.
In the framework of event, there will be many activities to be held such as photo exhibitions, traditional market, film screenings, folk games… In addition, ecotourism and community-based tours to tourist attractions in the district will also be offered at the festival.
This is a chance to raise local people’s awareness in preservation and promotion of ethnic minority groups’ cultural values to develop tourism.
Nearly 500 bicyclists from 40 teams nationwide will participate in the Hanoi Open Bicycle 2015 race, as heard at a conference to introduce the event on August 18 by the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Accordingly, the competition will be held on August 23 around the King Ly Thai To statue area in Hoan Kiem district for competitors aged from 16 to 56.
The organising board revealed the total prize money for the race is VND96 million (US$4,460).
The event is part of activities to celebrate the 70 th anniversary of the August Revolution (August 19, 1945) and National Day of Vietnam (September 2).
Around 80 kilometers from Hanoi, Van Long Nature Reserve in Gia Van Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province is as beautiful as a painting.
The site is where tourists can come to find peace in a tranquil atmosphere. Although it was opened for tourism in 1998, Van Long is still as primitive as ever. It remains an attractive destination for local and foreign visitors.
Along with Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and Tam Coc-Bich Dong National Park in the province, Van Long Nature Reserve is considered an overland equivalent of Halong Bay with imposing cliffs and mountains and vast lakes which form a stunning scene.
Van Long has 33 caves of different sizes but only some of them are open to tourists. Coming to the site, tourists should take bamboo basket boat tours to see Delacour’s langur in Ca Cave and the shades of mountains reflected on the crystal clear water surface in Bong Cave.
A sightseeing trip by boat takes around one hour and a half and costs VND75,000 (nearly US$3.4) per adult . Tourists should take the tour early in the morning to watch the site at dawn, or late in the afternoon to admire the breathtaking view of flocks of storks returning to their nests at sunset.
Van Long Nature Reserve holds two national records: the biggest community of Delacour’s langur and the largest natural painting.
The biggest wetland nature reserve site in the northern delta with an area of 3,500 hectares is home to thousands of terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants. Among them are rare and endangered species such as waterfowl, giant water bug which is in Vietnam’s Red Book, and Delacour’s langur, a critically endangered species at home and abroad.
A moderately adventurous tour to explore Va and Nuoc Nut Caves within the UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh were officially launched on August 16.
The tour is operated by Oxalis Company from February through August every year, serving only 700-800 tourists annually. It is customarily a two-day and one-night journey which includes a 10-kilometre jungle trek.
Discovered by local residents long ago, Va and Nuoc Nut Caves were thoroughly studied and announced by the British Caving Association in 2000.
Va-Nuoc Nut Caves expeditions offer tourists the full experience of both dry and wet caves with fabulous stalactites and stalagmites as well as unique and extraordinary stalactite lakes, the formation of which remains a mystery.
According to Howard Limbert, an expert from the British Caving Association, Nuoc Nut and Va are much different from other caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang as well as other places in the world due to their exceptional stalactites and stalagmites.
Fred Eric, a Belgium national who was the first tourist to successfully conquer Va and Nuoc Nut Caves, said he was very impressed with the exclusive and strange beauty of the caves, especially the stalactite lake system.
Earlier this month, the Phong Nha – Ke Bang tourism centre also launched a programme to explore Toi (Dark) Cave as part of the Quang Binh Cave Festival 2015 themed “Quang Binh - Kingdom of Caves ”.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang is famous for its spectacular cave system. Located in Bo Trach district, the 123-hectare park is home to nearly 2,934 species of fauna and flora.
The biggest cave in the world, Son Doong, is hidden in the park. Since the cave was discovered in 2009 by a group of scientists from the British Cave Research Association, it has become an international sensation and drawn tourists from all over the world.
The province received around 2.8 million tourists last year, including 43,000 foreigners, a 129 percent increase compared to the previous year. It expects to welcome 3.3 million guests this year.