Tourist places

HA NOI

   

Ha Noi, the capital city of Vietnam, embraces an irresistible charming beauty reflecting through its lovely landscapes of poetic lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks, and its faded French ambiance… all turn it into, perhaps, Asia’s most charming city.

Location: in the Red River Delta, in the central of North of Vietnam

Access: accessible by road, by train and by air with an international airport named Noi Bai. It takes 2 hours flying from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Noi.

Main attractions: Temple of Literature, Hochiminh’s Mausoleum (closed on Monday & Friday), Hochiminh House, History Museum (closed on Monday), Quan Thanh and Quan Su Pagoda, Ngoc Son Temple, Lake of Restored Sword, Fine Arts Museum, Ethnology Museum, One-pillared Pagoda.

The unique romance character of Hanoi lies in the gentle pace and the antique structures. The city personifies the spirit of Vietnam history in its fascinating blend of East and West, of Chinese influence and French colonization in the architecture of ancient temples, unspoiled monuments, modern museums, French-styled villas, and pockets of ancient culture along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter. With its thousand-year history - from which Vietnamese civilization began, intellectual tradition, overreaching grace of landscape and architecture of surrounding rice fields dotted by old pagodas and rustic villages, and continental  ambiance, the capital feels close to its natural environment and retains its human scale.

Modern skyscrapers are arising aside its 36 ancient streets, yet the peaceful lifestyle seems resting undisturbed from invasion of western culture and modernization: broad, tree-lined sidewalks hold in their laps-cafés where, in the early hours of evening, children play while their parents linger over cups of Vietnamese esbeetso. Curbside, people sit and read books. On grassy lake shores at dawn, the elderly exercise and the young jog. On evening’s approach, families sit watching pedal boats splash on water made pink by the sunset. Lakes, with no doubt, have made up an inevitable part of Hanoi’s soul. The elegant red The Huc Bridge connecting the two banks of Sword Lake and Tortoise Tower watching its own image reflected in emerald water for almost a thousand years have penetrated into the nostalgia of each Hanoian. Hanoi is fit for strolling and sitting, for reverence and reflection, for visiting and conversing.

Bat Trang traditional village

Nestling between green rice paddies and poetic surroundings about  13km south east from Ha Noi, in the Red River, Bat Trang village has been well-known during hundreds of years for its high-qualified and extraordinarily beautiful ceramic products, particularly dinnerware and ornamental ware.

The most outstanding advantage of the village is its traditional pottery production with 1,000 families developing their craftsmanship over many generations. Visitors can wander in Bat Trang’s narrow streets, watching the skillful and talented workers producing sophisticated porcelain, tableware and ornaments using the modern gas-fired kilns. Inside the studios are craftsmen mixing clay or dipping burnt cases into glaze to highlight their crackled lines, and then the painting masters will apply the intricate design on the raw terracotta before heating them in the ovens. The outcome pottery products include a diversified range of bowl, dish, pot, cup, wine pot, a big flower-vase, leg lamp, lime-pot, big-bellied jar with glazes such as ancient pearl blaze, crackle glaze, dark glaze, indigo-blue flower glaze, grey flower glaze, melt glaze...

Along the intertwined village roads are vendors with colorful ceramic little animals, figurines, huge vases, tea sets, etc. At the river bank is a fascinating busy port with packers loading trucks for all parts and pottery products are shipped on board. This is also where visitors can enjoy some tea and buy some ceramics as nice souvenirs for their trip.

HA LONG

Halong Bay is one of the most magnificent scenic spots in all of Vietnam and was designated by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage in 1994. It is a picturesque bay with some 1969 islets rising from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

Location: borders Cam Pha to the east, the Yen Hung District to the west, the Hoanh Bo District to the north and Ha Long Bay to the south with the coastline of 20km.

Access: three hours by car from Hanoi,

Main attractions: Ha Long Bay, a world heritage site with spectacular limestone formations, caves and beaches. Bai Tu Long Bay, about 60km from Ha Long, a new destination with the little-known beauty.

Ha Long City, formerly the Hon Gai Town, is the cultural, economic and political centre of Quang Ninh Province. The city is divided into two parts: East Ha Long and West Ha Long. The eastern part is an industrial zone where most of the province’s official buildings are also concentrated. The western part, also called amalgamating Bai Chay, a tourist area, with the much larger industrial and commercial area of Hong Gai, bustling with life, and is a good example of Vietnam’s emerging industrial cities. A stroll around the market and port is pleasant and informative. The most worth-visiting natural is Bai Tho (‘Poem’) Mountain, whose limestone peak is unexpectedly rich in bio-diversity and offers stunning views of the bay and the red backs of sea eagles swooping below. In addition, the city also bears religious significance with two attractive temples, one on each side of the mountain, and other temples, pagodas as well as historical relics. 

Ha Long Bay

Halong Bay, 170km from Hanoi, means "Bay of the Descending Dragon" in the Vietnamese language. Ha Long Bay is one of the most magnificent scenic spots in  all of Vietnam and was designated by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage in 1994.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

It is a picturesque bay consisting of a dense cluster of 1969 limestone islets rising spectacularly from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, each topped with thick jungle vegetation. Washed by water and lapped by waves for hundreds of thousands of years, the bay owns mystical qualities and surrealistic scenery as the limestone basin has been carved into stalactic caves, crescent beaches with bizarre and awesome formations. Some of the famous creations are: Man’s Head Island, Dragon Island, Pair of Roosters Island, Incense Burner Island, Bell Island, Elephant Island, Wooden Stakes Cave, Pelican Cave, Virgin Cave, Cave of Awe, and so on… which all astonishingly resemble their namesake.

Viewed from above, the whole bay looks breathtaking as a splendid geographically works of art. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its high-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life.

It has been proven by scientists that Halong was one of the first cradles of human existence in the area at such archeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu, and Thoi Gieng. It is also a region of highly-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life. Reaching the depth of about 20m into the ocean and one can admire the panorama of coral reef field stretching endlessly and colourful flocks of sea creatures.

Amongst the many ways to explore this legendary stone world, kayaking has been emerging as a new, exciting and adventurous way that can lead tourists to the most primary parts of the bay. Staying overnight on the bay is also a favourite of many visitors. One can greet the early morning sunrise on the deck, watching sun light shining on every island, waking up every grotto and gradually covering the whole area. The morning can be spent with a breakfast and a leisurely sunbathing on board, then the afternoon is perfect for some diving, swimming, fishing and even enjoy right away a seafood barbecue on deck. A romantic dinner embraced by one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world will warm up every sense and passion of yours, and the evening will be full of surprise with party on board and night squid fishing.

SAPA

             

Nestling in a magically beautiful valley at an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa plateau is a pride of Lao Cai specifically and of Vietnam generally as being the country’s most incredibly picturesque hill station and is well off the beaten tourist track.

Location: on the slope of Hoang Lien Son Mountain, 37km from Lao Cai, 376km from Hanoi

Access: full day by car and 8 hours by train from Hanoi. Visitors may take the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and take the bus to Sapa.

Main attractions: a colorful market of ethnic tribes (Black H’mong & Red Dao).

Sapa withholds visitors’ souls by its enchanting, grandiose landscape of infinite variety in a primitive environment, where nature has raised extraordinarily diverse ethnic groups preserving authentic cultures throughout generations, where people have created an incredibly rich architectural and historic heritage, and where tourists are warmly welcomed by friendly smiles.

The first thing visitors may fall in love with when approaching the town are scattered detached wooden mansions and villas perched on verdant hills, behind think pine forests and hidden in fog layers of the early morning, bringing the beauty of a European town. Casting eye-views away, visitors can witness a boundless terrain of cloud-capped peaks, crystal clear streams and steep terraced vegetable gardens.

There are some breathtaking natural landscapes to discover like Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo forest, Ta Phin Cave and Sapa ancient rock field. Sapa in festival time Sapa is home to various ethnic minorities, each has developed their own language, lifestyle, costumes, as well as cultural customs and practices throughout many generations. When spring, the most beautiful time of the town, arrives, hundreds of flowers with captivating colours blossom, filling the whole town with the pink colour of peach, apricot, cherry, together with brilliant colours and fantastic shapes of orchirds.

And outstandingly amongst the beauty of natural figures emerge the splendidly colourful costumes of the ethnic people, who bring different kinds of goods to join the opening fairs. Market sessions are also a chance for locals to promenade and young men and women in colorful costumes to meet, date or seek mates. Among those, Bac Ha Market hosts the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands. As a district of Lao Cai province, nearly 80km from Sapa, Bac Ha situated in the highlands and is mostly populated by the beautifully dressed Flower H'Mong ethnic minority. More untouched and unoccupied than Sapa, Bac Ha boasts a very unique beauty of subtropical  nature and people. Where traditional values and identities are well-maintained in kermises, the town offers tourists an opportunity to understand the local traditions and customs, taste local specialties, meet hospitable local people and explore the hidden charms of this “white plateau”.

The most remarkable feature of Bac Ha is its lively and colorful Sunday market, a regular rendezvous of ethnic minority groups to gather and exchange goods. On this occasion, all the paths leading to the town are filled with ethnic tribes of the Tay, Dao, Nung, Giay and Flower H’mong trek in on horses or water buffalo for the dawn-to-dusk sales in their colorful distinct costumes. Among those the Flower H’mong are the most vivid, with richly colored clothes of bright red, blue and pink, and skirts embroidered with delicate flowers.

Other noticeable and worth-visiting ethnic fairs include Lung Phin (on Sunday), Can Cau (on Saturday) and Coc Ly (on Tuesday). Can Cau Market Beside the markets, Bac Ha geographical formation also provides other interesting kinds of activities, such as trekking among the sugar hills to visit Phu La village, tasting Tam Hoa plums, a sweet and fresh local specialty, or discovering how the ethnicities make their reputable wine and how they grow corn on high mountains.

NINH BINH

   

Lying proximity to Non Nuoc and Canh Dieu Mountain is the picturesque scenery of Ninh Binh province, the so-called “inland Halong Bay" as the sharply peaked mountains rise from out of the mists like rising from the foaming ocean.

Location: in the Red River Delta, 91km south of Hanoi, surrounded by Hoa Binh, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, between the Red and Ma River

Access: convenient waterway and road networks of transportation. 2 hours by car from Hanoi. The Reunification Express Train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City stops at Ninh Binh Town.

Main attractions: Hoa Lu - the ancient capital of Vietnam with centuries-old Din  h and Le dynasty temples, Tam Coc grotto with huge limestone columns rising right from paddy field valleys, Bich Dong Cave Pagodas, Phat Diem Cathedral and Cuc Phuong National Park.

The huge rock edifices which jut out of paddy fields and canals provide an unusual and dramatic landscape, which is clearly divided into three parts: the mountainous area in the west and northwest; the delta and coastal area in the east and south, all of which are beautified and consolidated by the Day River and Van Sang River meandering through the town.

Beside its imposing landscape, Ninh Binh, endowed with a variety of ethnicities including Muong, Tay, Nung, Tai, Hoa, and Dao minor groups, provides an opportunity to observe exotic daily life, cultures and explore historical relics.

Hoa Lu

Hoa Lu bears it unique features in its historical role as the first capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, in the precious remaining ancient structures and in the picturesqu  e landscape of limestone mountains reminiscent. Indeed, Hoa Lu lays in a flat valley surrounded by the Trang An lime stone mountains, which form a natural wall protecting the old citadel.

The city’s northwest is bordered by the Hoang Long River, the tributaries of which run through the capital, cooling the weather within the city and serving as convenient waterways. 13km from Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu still deserves the reputation of an ancient capital city with many palaces, pagodas, sanctuaries, tombs and pavilions that reflect architectural styles of various dynasties.

The most outstanding structures are the Temples of King Dinh and King Le, which was built in an area of 150 hectares in the eastern part of the capital while the western part served as a site to educate and protect children. Though affected by time, war and weather, some precious antiques are still preserved well such as the whole-stone dragon thrones, wooden bas-relieves, lacquered statues of King Dinh, Kinh Le and especially the two sanctuaries devoted to the two emperors. One of the most popular pieces of architecture is the Bao Thien Tue Palace, which was plated with gold and silver.

Hoa Lu has also proved it owns richness in cultures and traditions throughout traditional cultural festivals, of which the most important and largest one is the Truong Yen Festival, held on the 10th day of the third lunar month to memorize Kings of the Dinh and Le dynasties. The festival lasts for three days with many traditional games and martial arts, reflecting local residents’ legends.

Tam Coc – Bich Dong

Tam Coc, meaning “3 caves”, gets its name from the composition of the Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba Grottoes. Boating gently along the river and a magic-like world inside these grottoes will emerge with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and colors that sparkle like gemstones. This is also the area of Ninh Binh that is recognized by the locals as a “Ha Long Bay on the rice paddies”, which is filled with huge rock formation protruding from the rice fields scattered along Ngo Dong River. The small journey on the river passing those natural treasures will also be a wonderful opportunity for photo hunters, especially when local people come to harvest the water rice planted along the river, or when they transplant some seedling for the next crops.

From the wharf of Tam Coc you can go further till reaching Bich Dong, or Emerald-like Grotto Pagoda, a combination of three pagodas on the Lower, Middle and Upper levels of the pretty Ngu Nhac Mountain. On the mountain peak next to the Upper Pagoda stands imposingly the statue of a Mandarin scholar whose eyes are trying to catch and embrace the overall magnificent panorama of the paddy fields at the foot of Truong Yen Mountain.

Phat Diem Cathedral

28 km southeast from Ninh Binh stands a unique architectural complex that combines the traditional pagoda architecture of Vietnam and the Gothic style of Christian architecture, Phat Diem Cathedral. As a group of different churches of stone and wood, the cathedral is divided into two quarters: the churches and the clergy's house. Throughout eventful history, Phat Diem has been more and more completed with solemn parts including the church Saint Mary's Heart, the Big Cathedral and the Belfry, and the Saints' shrines of Giuse, Phero and Rocco.

The skillfulness and excellent stone carving art of the Vietnamese workers are reflected thoroughly throughout the harmonious composition and contrast between Vietnamese local culture and European Christianity. The traditional architecture of Vietnam is recognized obviously in each ornament: the Belfry has curly tiled roof-tops with decoration of Vietnamese temples, the shrine of Jesus' Heart is made of jack wood, the Big Cathedral is designed as a grandiose Communal House with sophisticated multi-level rafters, all the churches are decorated with lotus, lemon flowers, birds, tropical trees like apricot and bamboo, and Chinese dragons are found where saints and Christians angels are. The entire structure is admirable not only for the beauty of each fabric but for their amazingly unique co-ordination and is considered a pride of the contemporary folk works.

Cuc Phuong National Park

Just 140km south of Hanoi and 55km from Ninh Binh, the first National Park of Vietnam, Cuc Phuong covers roughly 25,000 hectares of impressive botanical richness with a wide variety of fauna, flora species and patches of primeval forest, including ancient trees with thick clusters of roots, and parasitic plants and ligneous creepers.

There are an estimated 2,000 different species of flora and the 450 species fauna accounting for 38% of the nation’s fauna. Varieties include thousand-year dracontomelum and parashorea trees, and coral, vanilla, snow-white, and butterfly orchids everywhere. Large mammals inhabit the park including panthers and bears, but the most popular animals can be seen are monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels and pheasants.

There are also over 120 species of birds and many diverse beetles living here. At night, millions of cicadas create a deafening din, and millions of fireflies flicker about. Three-quarters of the park are home to limestone mountains with a height ranging from 300m to 600m above sea level, creating dozens of picturesque caves such as the Ancient Man Cave where two ancient tombs along with Neolithic remains and evidence of stone implements were discovered, Crescent Moon Cave, Thanh Minh and Con Mong Caves.

The best time to visit Cuc Phuong National Park is during the dry season, from December to April, when the soil is solid enough for hiking some kilometers of trails and passing through old-growth forest with long vines wrapped around strangled trees, visiting the caves, waterfalls and streams in the forest or stopping over at a Muong ethnic village.

HUE

    

Located in the Central region of Vietnam, Hue City is considered as the heart of national cultural heritages. As the Vietnam’s ancient capital during Nguyen Dynasty, the most prosperous reign in the history, with many social and science achievements, such as music, architecture, literature, agricultural techniques, and so on, Hue is among Vietnam's most valued national treasure in terms of history and heritage.

Location: 1,100km from Ho Chi Minh City, , 105km north of Danang

Access: one hour and a half by plane or 20 hours and 35 minutes by train from Ho Chi Minh City, 3 hours by car from Da Nang

Main attractions: Vietnam’s former royal capital and recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Highlights include old citadels, magnificent royal tombs, solemn ancient pagodas and royal families’ old houses.

Of the ancient capitals in Vietnam, Hue is the only one, the unique city that still remains the intact appearance of a Middle Age complex of the monarchic construction consisting of walls, palaces, and royal tombs. These precious vestiges in Hue have not only turn the city itself into a living museum highly appreciated by the whole country, but also have earned the city the honorable recognition as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1993.

Situated in the middle of hills on the southern bank of Perfume River are very beautiful tombs of Kings Nguyen. Among these tombs are the four famous ones with the name and the arrangements of the tomb reflected each Emperor’s points of view, personality and tastes. This is majestic Gia Long Tomb, imposing Minh Mang Tomb, poetic Tu Duc Tomb and magnificent Khai Dinh Tomb. All tombs were constructed during the reign of the respective kings for which they were named. Each tomb was laid out with statues and monuments in perfect harmony with one another to form a poetically natural setting. The following elements were incorporated in all the tombs: walls, triple gate (Tam Quan Gate), Salutation Court, Stele House, temples, lakes and ponds, pavilions, gardens, and finally the tomb.

Based on the ancient practice of geomancy, the Citadel was designed and planned around the natural elements in the area north of the Perfume river. The complex faces southeast, taking Mount Ngu Binh (Royal Screen Mount) as a natural screen. Two islets in the Perfume river, Ta Thanh Long (Left Green Dragon) and Huu Bach Ho (Right White Tiger) play the role of sentinels for the Citadel.

Hue also bears its uniqueness in the diversification and perpetuation of spiritual and cultural values throughout centuries. Hue is a representative of romance, gentle beauty, and delicate art of Vietnam. It is considered as the city of religion, an important centre of Buddhism, where 10 pagodas have been standing for over 300 years as well as a hundred of temples and pagodas built in the early of the century still exist. Thien Mu Pagoda, or Celestial Lady Pagoda, is one of the most beautiful and ancient architectural structures of worship in Hue. The most striking feature of the pagoda is its Phuoc Duyen Tower, a 7-storey masterpiece dedicated to a Buddha who appeared in human form. To the left of the tower stands a pavilion sheltering an enormous bell which weighs 3,285kg and is of 1.4m circumference.  

The city is where the royal music is originated, where traditional dishes and sophisticated handicraft were born and have been preserved until today. Hue and its famous river, the Perfume River, have become the inspiration of many works of literature, poetry, art, movies… Moreover, all over the world only in Hue that one can find the uniquely gentle, lovely image of school girls riding bicycles or walking under the trees in their uniform – the Vietnamese national dress “Ao Dai”, with long black silky hair, in the conical straw hat with a poem written inside that can only be read when held up to the light.

The royal music or the so-called “Nha nhac” (literally means “tender music”) has been raising its prominence on the world's stages after being recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003. Its root can be traced back to the courts of royalty in 13th century and was used to entertain the royal families and mandarins in annual ceremonies and special events such as coronations, funerals, and official receptions. Than ks to “Nha nhac” Vietnamese philosophy and cosmogony could be preserved and transmitted throughout generations until nowadays.

Hue Royal ballet is a unique artistic heritage developed from Vietnamese Dynasties, consisting of over fifteen great dancing plays, performed under the circumstances of offerings, congratulation, protocol, royal party and classical drama based on narrative. A play often requires a lot of dancers to perform, with special techniques and skills of Vietnam royal dancing and singing, which has been developed and promoted over generations.

These two forms of art are specially favored by foreign tourists when paying visits to the country. Enjoy a royal dinner in a royal boat on the Perfume River while watching “Nha nhac” performances has become an indispensable part of any tour to Hue.

For leisure moments of indulging yourself in the embrace of nature, Lang Co Beach & Tourist Area is idyllic with white-sand dunes, pleasure-houses designed in Hue traditional styles combining the architecture of mausoleums, palaces, temples, pagodas. Lang Co pristine beach provides spaces for not only seaside activities but also exploring springs, caves, waterfalls, lakes and stone grounds of natural and virgin beauty.

HOI AN

        

Originally a harbor town in the Champa Kingdom at the estuary of the Thu Bon river, Hoian, formerly known as Faifo, was an important Southeast Asia port of call for traders from China, Japan, Holland, India, Southeast Asia, and even Europe from the 16th through the 18th centuries.

Location: Quang Nam Province, 970km from Ho Chi Minh City or 30km south of Danang.

Access: 45 minutes by land from Da Nang

Main attractions: centuries-old houses, communal houses, uncanny pagodas constructed in Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese styles and traditional handicraft villages. Festival on full-moon and Saturday night is worth a visit. Thu Bon River. Phung Hung Old House, Tan Ky House, Tran Family Worship House, Japanese covered Bridge, Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, Assembly Hall of Cantonese Chinese Congregation, Quan Cong Temple

Also served as the hub of East-West cultural exchange, Hoi An's ancient past is superbly preserved in its fascinating temples, pagoda, shop houses and home which make up the town's old quarter which boasts a unique blend of Vietnamese and Chinese, Japanese, as well as Western architectural styles. This distinctive harmony has earned Hoian the title of “World Heritage” given by the UNESCO in 1999.

“Hoian rests undisturbed, a placid piece of history strangely preserved in a country where so much of the past has been razed”. Indeed, it is some kind of nostalgic pleasure to walk through the streets of this ancient town, or to pedal around on a bicycle and stop by restaurants for a cup of tea and Chinese-style pastries.

In the old section of Faifo stand elaborately carved wooden facades and moss-covered tiled-roof houses having withstood the ravages of more than 300 years of weather and warfare, narrow streets, or colorful guildhalls standing quietly as a testament to the town's trading roots. Most of these houses are Vietnamese in style, using unpainted ironwood, jackfruit, or other local timber, with walls of limestone and mixed leaves ground together and spread over bamboo frames. Inside, elaborately carved hardwood beams, crab-shell roofs and brick and plaster fireplaces are common features.

The indigenousity of the whole town is especially lightened in the Full Moon Festival held on every 15th day of the lunar month. Under the light of the full moon, Hoi An becomes one big centre stage where all the locals & tourists come out and participate in reviving the golden days of prosperity and folklore with music, plays & parties. On these evenings the town turns off its street lamps and fluorescent lights, leaving the Old Quarter bathed in the warm glow of colored silk, glass and paper lanterns. Residents place offerings of food and incense on their ancestral altars and visit one of Hoi An's many pagodas. The scent of incense and the sounds of people singing add to the town's enchanted atmosphere.

MY SON

My Son Holyland has proved its unique value throughout obtaining the title of “The World’s Heritage Site” given by UNESCO. Indeed, My Son Sanctuary can be cons idered not only as an imperial city during the Cham Dynasty but also as the most important Holy Land of the Champa Kingdom from the late 4th to the 15th centuries, since it reflects an exceptional example of unique cultural interchange, which owed its spiritual and architectural origins to the Indian Hinduism introduced into Southeast Asia and developing gradually on the coast of Vietnam.

Location: in Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province, 50km west of Hoi An, 70km from Danang.

Access: by land from Da Nang or Hoi An

Main attractions: the My Son Holy See with several brick temples built between the 7th and 13th centuries.

My Son Sanctuary is a large complex of religious relics that is graph ically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence. It comprises more than 70 architectural works, including temples and towers that connect to each other with complicated red brick designs.

The main component of the Cham architectural design is the tower, built to reflect the divinity of the king. The main construction is the Kalan tower, surrounded by several sub-towers worshipping Genies or deceased kings. Although having been destroyed relatively by time and wars, the whole complex still bears a significant value as still marking the glorious time of the style and the art history of the Cham people throughout its remaining sculpture and architectural masterpiece.

All of the Cham towers were built on a quadrate foundations and each comprises three parts: a solid tower base, representing the world of human beings, the mysterious and sacred tower body, representing the world of spirits, and the tower top built in the shape of a man offering flowers and fruits or of trees, birds, animals, etc., representing things that are close to the spirits and human beings.

More of the complex’s artifacts, especially statues of female dancers and genies worshipped by the Cham people, worship animals and artifacts of the daily communal activities, were collected and displayed at the Cham Architecture Museum in Danang city. Although there are not many remnants left, those that remain display the typical sculptural works of cultural value of the Cham nationality.

PHONG NHA CAVES - KEBANG

        

Location: Quang Binh, VietNam

Phong Nha - Ke Bang is a national park in the central Quang Binh province of Vietnam, about 500 km south of Ha Noi and 260 north of Da Nang. The park was recognised in 2003 as the World Natural Heritage Site in Vietnam by UNESCO. The stunning caves and the diversity of fauna and flora here are worth visitting

The park land is one of the world's two largest limestone regions and the site is home to several hundred caves and grottoes. Long underground passageways are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. In 2005, a new species of gecko was discovered here by a group of Vietnamese biologists together with biologists working for the park, Cologne Zoo in Germany and the Saint Petersburg Wild Zoology Institute in Russia.

Recognized by the UNESCO

Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park was recognised as a world natural heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at its 27th general assembly session being held in Paris from June 30-July 5.

At the session, delegates from over 160 member countries of UNESCO World Heritage Convention agreed to include Phong Nha-Ke Bang park and 30 others worldwide to the list of world heritage sites.

A site for prehistorical geographical research

Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park is one of the world's two largest limestone regions. In comparison with 41 other world heritage sites which have karsts, Phong Nha has a dissimilar geomorphic, geologic and biotic conditions. The karsts of Phong Nha can be traced back to Palaeozoic 400 million years ago. According to the UNESCO, Phong Nha is the oldest major karst in Asia. Phong Nha is an ideal site for earth's history research. If the Hin Namno, bording Phong Nha on the west (in Laotian territory) is combined in a unique reserve, then this natural reserve can be considered one of the biggest karst regions in the world. The over 2,000 km2 of parkland includes be autiful limestone formations, grottoes and caves, and boasts lush forestland covering 95% of the park area.

The area is considered a paradise for researchers and explorers of grottoes and caves, and Vietnamese and British scientists have so far surveyed 20 with a total length of 70 km of caves. Of them, 17 caves are in Phong Nha area and three ones are in Ke Bang area.

The Phong Nha cave itself which lends its name to the whole system is probably the most beautiful of all, containing many fascinating rock formations, enchanting visitors with evocative names such as Lion, Fairy Caves, Royal Court and Buddha.

Besides the grotto and cave systems, Phong Nha has the longest underground rivers, the largest caverns and passageways, the widest and prettiest sand banks, and the most astonishing rock formations in the world. Phong Nha - Ke Bang also home to dozens of mountain peaks of over 1,000 metres still unexplored by men and seen as ideal sites for activities like climbing and exploration. Worthy of note are Peak Co Rilata with the height of 1,128 m and Peak Co Preu, 1,213 m. Lying between these peaks are valleys which promise tourists exciting eco-tours.

Diversity in ecological system

According to initial statistics, the primitive tropical forest in Phong Nha - Ke Bang houses 140 families, 427 branches, and 751 species of high-rated plants, of whic h 36 species are endangered and listed in the Viet Nam Red Book. The forest is also home to 32 sets, 98 families, 256 races and 381 species of four land backboned animals. Sixty-six animal species are listed in the Viet Nam Red Book and 23 other species in the World Red Book. In general, Phong Nha-Ke Bang's animals are more diverse than in other natural reserves and national parks.

A historical site

In addition to the diversity in the ecosystem, Phong Nha - Ke Bang is home to archeological and historical relics, such as an ancient hieroglyphic script of the Cham ethnic minority, King Ham Nghi's base built for the resistance war against French colonialists in the late 19th century, and the Xuan Son ferry station, Ho Chi Minh Trail and Road 20 used during the US resistance war or Vietnam War as commonly called.

Tourism deveplopment in recent years

Central Quang Binh province has poured heavy investment into upgrading the Phong Nha-Ke Bang visitor site to turn it into the country's major tourist destination.

Multiple eco-tourist projects have been licensed for development in the area and the area is being heavily invested by the province to turn it into a major tourist site in Vietnam. Phong Nha Ke Bang is part of a tourism promotion programme called: "Middle Heritage Road", including: the ancient capital of Hue (tangible architecture and intangible Nha nhac cung dinh), Champa relics of My Son, Hoi An, The space of Gong culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

In order to facilitate the increasing flow of tourists to the site, construction of the Dong Hoi Airport nearby has been in progress and due to open at the end of 2006.

DA NANG

Located in the middle of the country, traffic along the north - south road, rail, sea and air routes, the capital city 764km north of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 964 kilometers South. In addition, Danang is the midpoint of the four cultural heritage is world famous ancient capital of Hue, Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary and National Forest Phong Nha - Ke Bang.
Within the region and internationally, Danang is one of the important gateway to the sea of the Central Highlands and Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar to the North East Asian countries through economic corridor East-West to end the Tien Sa Seaport. Located on one of the sea lanes and international air routes, Danang has a geographical location is particularly convenient for rapid development and sustainability.
Danang City has a natural area is 1255.53 km2, of which the urban district occupies an area of 213.05 km2, the suburban district occupies an area of 1042.48 km2.

   

Da Nang is the economic, political and cultural centre of Vietnam. It is recognized as one of the most upcoming tourist destinations of the country. Danang is situated in a beautiful natural setting, with many places to visit. The imposing Hai Van Pass, the serene Son Tra Peninsula, the sacred Marble Mountains and the wonderful beaches embrace the city. Besides this, the world famous Cham Museum is an indispensable spot during your stay in Danang.

Central Vietnam is well-known as five UNESCO World Heritages are located in the region. For this reason, the city is called the gateway to the ‘World Heritage Road’ in Central Vietnam. Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Holy Land, Hue Imperial City and Royal Court Music and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park are must-sees.

Attractions:

Marble Mountains

Following the coastline 8 km south from Danang city you will find these mountains pop up from nowhere into the landscape. The stone steps carved into the mountains lead to several cages and peaks where you can enjoy the beautiful panorama view over Danang city. Moreover, you can explore caves used as Buddhist sanctuaries and pagodas where monks still pray regularly. The five marble hills were named after the five elements of the universe: Metal (Kim Son), wood (Moc Son), water (Thuy Son), fire (Hoa Son) and earth (Tho Son) by King Minh Mang two hundred years ago. At the foot of the mountains is Stone Carving Villages where produce many beautiful stone products.

Ba Na Mountains

40 km to the northwest from Danang city center lays this old French eco-tourism village preserving a rich fauna and flora system. The village, surrounded by jungle, is located on the Ba Na Mountain which has a height of 1487 meters above sea level. The climate is cool all year long!

Ba Na is charming with its elegant villas and mossy tiled roofs in great harmony with the nature. Here you can have a unique experience of having four seasons in one single day: a spring morning, a summer noon, an autumn afternoon and a winter night. There is a cable car system which will take you higher and give you an overview of the whole town from above.

Son Tra Peninsula

American called the mountains is ‘Monkey Mountain’. From the peak of the mountain you have a fantastic view over the city, the harbor and Danang’s coastline. Along the coast of the Peninsula there are a number of beautiful beaches with pure white sand and crystal clear water only waiting for you to be explored. If you want to stay overnight to enjoy the beautiful sunset on the beach you can also stay in one of the resorts that are clustered along the beach.

Danang Beach

Danang has a 90 km long beach area, which was voted for being one of the world’s most luxurious beaches by The Forbes Magazine in 2005. The beach is perfect for enjoying the sun, sand and sea as you can swim, take part in water sports, surf or just stroll barefoot along the beach. A peaceful and calm beach for your relaxation! Since the local people swim in the early mornings and late afternoons, the mile long beaches are rather empty during the days for you to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

Hai Van Pass

Hai Van pass is named as “the most imposing landscape” located at the natural border between Hue and Danang, the imposing Hai Van pass is the largest and highest frontier post in Vietnam and the last peak of Truong Son Range to the sea. At the height of 496 meters above the sea level, visitors can admire the overview of Danang City embraced by immense blue sea, quite and hidden behind the lines of green trees.

A 6 km underground tunnel has replaced the 20km precarious journey through the pass and saves time to travel from Hue to Danang.

 
 
In 1835, after King Minh Mang ordered: “European vessels are not allowed to anchor to do trade at any harbours except for Han Port”, Danang became the largest commercial port in the central region. The local small-scale industries, including shipbuilding, preliminary processing of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, and trade, services prospered accordingly.
 
 The French colonists, after establishing their domination of the whole of Vietnam in 1889, separated Danang from Quang Nam Province and renamed the city Tourane and under the control of the Governor General of Indochina.
 
In the early 20th century, Tourane was developed on a European model, which focused on social infrastructure and manufacture technology. Many kinds of economic activity took shape and thrived, such as agricultural production, small-scale industries, export product procesing (tea, food, beverages, ice, alcohol, fish sauce, dried fish), ship building and repair, and services. Together with Hai Phong and Sai Gon, Tourane became an important trading center of the country.
 
In 1950, French gave the authority over the city to the Bao Dai government. In March 1965, American marine units landed and started to set up a big military complex. The city was defined as a centrally governed city in 1967, and accordingly American troops and the Saigon government built up Danang into a political, military and cultural center of the 1st and 2nd tactical zones. Military bases and such infrastructure as the airport, ports, warehouses, roads, public works, communication stations, and banks were constructed. Industries flourished, resulting in the substitution by industrial zones of handicraft workshops. For example, Hoa Khanh Industrial Zone was used for oxygen, acetylene and detergent production, grind and textiles industries. However, the devastating war made thousands of rural people flee in refugee camps. Urban slums appeared, social evils increased and production came to a standstill. 
 
In 1975, after gaining complete independence, Danang (temporarily under Quang Nam – Da Nang Province) began to overcome the war’s severe consequences. Regardless of difficulties, the city’s rehabilitation and development had some results, especially after the renovation in 1986.
 
On 6 July 1996, the tenth session of the 9th National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam passed a Resolution separating Quang Nam – Danang Province into Quang Nam Province and Danang city, which was directly responsible to the central government. The new city of Danang consisted of the previous Danang, Hoa Vang Rural District and Hoang Sa Island District.
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