Con Dao Island

18 Feb

Con Dao Island sits on the East Sea about 97 nautical miles from Vung Tau City and is endowed with stunning beaches shaded with evergreen trees, fresh air, clear blue water, and primitive forests with an abundant wildlife flocking to the island’s sandy beaches.

Vietnam travel is famous not only for the beauty of nature but also for Vietnam culture and Vietnamese people. Travel to Vietnam, tourists can enjoy themselves with peaceful and fresh air which only Vietnam have. It’s really difficult to answer where is the most beautiful and the most famous place because everywhere in Vietnam is beautiful. And one of these idea place is Con Dao Island. It will be a wonderful travel tour to Vietnam for tourists when they come to Con Dao Island.

In travel tour to Con Dao island, after a 45 minute journey from Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC, tourists will reach Co Ong Airport on Con Son Island, the largest of 16 islands in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Con Dao District.

The road from the airport to the center of Con Dao island district is more than 13km, winding around the coastline with the sea on the left and on the right mountains and primitive forest. Along the road are scattered red paper flowers studded with white cherry.

The first impression of Con Dao center is a gentle urban area lying by the sea with clean roads under shades of almond trees and old bang lang trees. There is a lot of new infrastructure with offices, hotels, resorts, restaurants and residential houses which has livened up the area which used to be home to the gloomy images of the old prison.

Con Dao Island - vietnamtourism.org.vn

Con Dao Island overview

There are no taxis or buses but tourists can take a xe om (motorbike taxi) at VND300,000 per day to go around the island and the driver will double up as your local guide.

Tourists can also hire a motorbike from VND100,000 to VND120,000 per day or a bicycle at VND30,000 per day if you are feeling adventurous.

There are also canoes priced at VND5 million and seating 20 people. Visitors can stay overnight in resorts, hotels or make a camp.

Although part developed, the island is still thinly populated which is great for tourists who can appreciate the primitive atmosphere and of course the scenery and forget for a few days the cramped city life.

Con Dao Island is also famous because of the notorious prison. In the second half of the 19th century, after invading southern Vietnam, French colonists founded Con Dao prison where they imprisoned patriotic prisoners and Vietnam’s political leaders and managed it with brutal aggression.

In the 113 years under French colonialism and American invading forces over 20,000 Vietnamese prisoners died at the jail and were buried at Hang Duong Cemetery.

One of the stellar attractions in this region, the Con Dao Archipelago is slowly gaining attention for its startling natural beauty. Con Son, the largest of this chain of 15 islands and islets, is ringed with lovely beaches, coral reefs and scenic bays, and remains partially covered in thick forests. In addition to hiking, diving and exploring empty coastal roads and deserted beaches, there are some excellent wildlife-watching opportunities.

Con Dao Island - vietnamtourism.org.vnThe beauty of Con Dao Island

Con Son Island (with a total land area of 20 sq km) is also known by its Europeanised Malay name, Iles Poulo Condore (Pulau Kun-dur), which means ‘Island of the Squashes’. Although it seems something of an island paradise, Con Son was once hell on earth for the thousands of prisoners who languished in confinement during the French and American regimes.

Roughly 80% of the land area in the island chain is part of Con Dao National Park, which protects Vietnam’s most important sea turtle nesting grounds. For the last decade the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has been working with local park rangers on a long-term monitoring program. During nesting season (May to September) the park sets up ranger stations to rescue threatened nests and move them to the safe haven of hatcheries.

Other interesting sea life around Con Dao includes the dugong, a rare and seldom-seen marine mammal in the same family as the manatee. Dugongs live as far north as Japan, and as far south as the subtropical coasts of Australia. Their numbers have been on a steady decline, and increasingly efforts are being made to protect these adorable creatures. Major threats include coastal road development, which causes the destruction of shallow-water beds of seagrass, the dugongs’ staple diet.

Con Dao is one of those rare places in Viet­nam where there are virtually no structures over two storeys, and where the traveller’s experience is almost hassle-free. One of the special things here for travel tour Con Dao, there’s even no need to bargain at the local market! Owing to the relatively high cost and the inaccessibility of the islands, mass tourism has thankfully been kept to a minimum.

Con Dao Island - vietnamtourism.org.vn

These days most visitors to Con Son are package-tour groups of former VC soldiers who were imprisoned on the island. The Viet­namese government generously subsidises these jaunts as a show of gratitude for their sacrifice. Foreign tourists are still few and far between, though their numbers are on the rise.

The driest time to visit Con Dao is from November to February, though the seas are calmest from March to July. The rainy season lasts from June to September, but there are also northeast and southwest monsoons in autumn that can bring heavy winds. In November 1997 typhoon Linda did a number here: 300 fishing boats were lost, reefs were wiped out and the forests flattened. September and October are the hottest months, though even then the cool island breezes make Con Dao relatively comfortable when compared with Ho Chi Minh city or Vung Tau.

Tra Co – Vietnam’s most romantic beach

18 Feb

Tra Co Beach is widely known as the first beach on the country’s map, the longest beach (17km) in the country, and Vietnam’s most pristine and romantic beach.

Tra Co is one of the most beautiful beaches in Viet Nam. Located in Quang Ninh province, next to Viet Nam – China border,  Tra Co – a good and charming place for vacations is only 8 -9 kilometers away from Mong Cai town.

Tra Co Beach is a popular attraction to tourists in Vietnam travel with broad fine sand beaches stretching for 17 kilometers from the cape named Got in the north to the cape named Ngoc in the south. The coastline is bordered by 3-4 meters high sand dunes and peaceful  fishing  villages. It’s widely known as the longest beach in the country and considered the most pristine and romantic one with deep blue sea the year around and smooth white sand.

Tra Co is considered the most romantic beach in Vietnam.

The beach is shaded by a range of casuarina, protecting the village from the wind and the sand. Tra Co beach is an ideal place for tourists in Vietnam tourism to spend holidays. If you spend your holiday on the fifth month of the lunar calendar, you can have a chance to take part in  Tra Co Communal House Festival organized from the 30th of the fifth lunar month to the 6th of the sixth lunar month.

Tra Co beach with its wide stretches of smooth white sand and deep blue sea all the year round

Tra Co has an abundance of fish so visitors in tours to Vietnam can enjoy several local specialties made from cuttlefish, crab, shrimp, oysters and squid. The best known local dishes are made from king crabs.

Sunrise at Tra Co beach

Next to Tra Co Beach is the beautiful Con Mang (Mang islet), about 5km from Mong Cai. The sand here is smooth and firm and you can easily ride a motorbike on it without being afraid of sinking or slipping. You can also enjoy the beautiful view at sunrise or sunset.

So, Tra Co’s beauty is due to many natural features, when you have an opportunity to go to Quang Ninh, you should not miss this place. Please come to Tra Co and explore this charming beach!

Banh Chung – Square rice cake in Vietnamese Tet

2 Feb

Banh Chung (Square rice cake) is a traditional Vietnamese for lunar new year rice cake which is made from glutinous rice, mung bean, pork and other ingredients. Its origin is told by the legend of Lang Liêu

History and Legend

The origin of Banh Chung can be traced to Hong Bang Dynasty – when the 6th Hung Emperor ruled the land (read Vietnam Early History). Sadly thinking he was too old to lead the country, Hung Emperor wanted to find the one to inherit his position and sit on the throne. Therefore, he held a cooking contest for his 21 sons, and who could fully satisfy his taste would be the winner.

Vietnam Square Cake with the glossy green when they are taken off the steaming pot

Most princes set out on their journey to find special, exotic and far-fetched food, except for Lang Lieu – the 18th son of Hung King, also the poorest and loneliest since he lost his mother at a young age. Not having enough money to afford such delicacies, Lieu just stayed around his house.

Thanks to the help of a fairy in his dream, Lieu came up with 2 types of cake called ‘Banh Chung’ and ‘Banh Day’ and started baking exactly like what he had been told. On a spring day on which all the princes’ labor had to be presented, Lang Lieu and his wife brought Banh Chung and Banh Day to the emperor while other princes presented such expensive and unusual dishes.

Others sneered at Lieu’s cakes, but Hung Emperor was deeply impressed by the special flavor of these cakes. He asked Lieu about the meaning of these cakes. Lieu said that he had cooked the glutinous rice, then molded it into a round rice cake, and called it Banh Day as it symbolized the sky we live under; he also cooked a square rice cake, stuffed it with cooked bean paste and ground meat in the middle, and called it Banh Chung, which was symbolic of the earth we live on.

After that, Hung Emperor decided that Lieu was the winner and passed his throne to him. Since then, Banh Chung and Banh Day become traditional foods during the Tet holiday.

Banh Chung today

Banh Chung can be served as it is or fried to make ‘Banh Chung Ran’ – a delicious for such cold February in Vietnam. In some other regions, especially the Southern part of Vietnam, Banh Chung can be wrap in a cylindral shape with same ingredients, called ’Banh Tet’. A similar one to Banh Tet is ‘Banh Tay’ or ‘Banh Chung Dai’ (Long Banh Chung), served solely in the North with mung bean and little or no pork, hence, can be preserved for a longer period.

There are also many variations of Banh Chung according to regions, religions and likings such as Banh Chung Gu (Humped Banh Chung) of San Diu people, Banh Chung Chay (Vegetarian Banh Chung) for vegetarians and Buddhists, Banh Chung Ngot (Sweetened Banh Chung), etc.

  (Fried Chung Cake is a popular variation of Vietnamese Square Cake)

In traditional context, the process of making Banh Chung is an occasion for Vietnamese family members to get together. Sitting around the warm fire, talking and telling each other past stories, they get ready for a New Year with lots of good wishes.

Although nowadays, not many Vietnamese families keep this habit anymore, Banh Chung is still an irreplaceable dish of Vietnamese ancestor altar on the occasion of Tet. It is the evidence of the Vietnamese loyalty and great gratitude to their ancestors.

The importance of Banh Chung has already gone into poetry:

‘Thịt mỡ, dưa hành, câu đối đỏ
Cây nêu, tràng pháo bánh chưng xanh’

Translation:

‘Rich meats, Salty onions, red couplets
Nêu tree, firecracker, green banh chung’.

Nghinh Ong – the a jubilant festival in Vung Tau

14 Jan

The festival is jubilantly held with many and many exciting activities.

Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province has many folk festivals: Trung Cuu festival, the Nghinh Ong festival, Thang Tam Temple festival, Dinh Co festival…Its cutture is the harmonious combination of all three North – Central – South. So, the festivals is particular.

Nghinh Ong festival is held in the fishing village in the province when the fishing season begins. The festival involves the rites of Ong worshipping, procession of Ong on sea by a big decorated boat with flag and flowers, bustling with drums and gongs. After the rituals are games such as boi singing, ba trao singing, martial performance Rituals performed in each place is different but there is always a procession of greeting Ong(the Big Fish) repertoire (whale) on the beach and then the “hat boi” organization.

Nghinh Ong festival in Vung Tau is the largest of all the festivals organised in the coastal provinces from Ninh Thuan to the south. The annual Nghinh Ong festival was held at the Ca Ong mausoleum (Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Vung Tau city) is the most solemn.

‘Ông’ is the respectful way in which the fishermen of southern Vietnam address whales and dolphins, which they believe to be guardian spirits. Whales in particular are believed to help fishing boats caught in storms to reach places of safety, and according to tradition fishermen arrange elaborate funerals for dead whales which have been washed ashore.

The legend tells whale worshiping customs is originated from Cham ethnic minority: “Because of Cha-aih-va named God want to come back quickly to his country after difficult magical practice that he answered back his trainer and self-wiled deformed to become the whale.

Nghinh Ong festival is held by the regional residents’ participation. Early morning, the festival start with people group included old men, village communes…going up a big boat which decored with flowers, flags, altar and ancestral tablet, the five notes group, gongs, drums, and lion dances group come to the defined location for offering incense, alcohol.

Then, group of boats come back wharf to welcome Ong to the temple, continuously the incense offering ceremony for our virtuous ancestors and virtuous posterities, reading funeral oration, honous, and then offering tea, flower and alcohol of pupils…

This festival also includes a lantern procession on board fishing boats, a basket boat competition.

Coming to the festival, travelers in Vietnam travel  will have a chance to see many other cultural activities such as: martial arts, dragon dances, Hat Boi…with harmony rhythm of gong sound, drum-beat in full incense.

A National Beauty Spot in Phu Yen, Da Bia Mountain

14 Jan

Together with the cultural and historical values, Da Bia Mountain is an ideal destination for tourists in Vietnam travel who would like to enjoy fascinating scenery, fresh atmosphere and diverse eco-system.

Da Bia Mountain or Thach Bi Son is a well-known mountain in Phu Yen, which has been recognized as a national beauty spot in 2008 by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism. The mountain is attached with many legends and old stories about important persons and events in Vietnam’s history in general and Phu Yen’s history in particular.

A National Beauty Spot in Phu Yen, Da Bia Mountain

Da Bia Mountain also plays an important role in the spiritual life of local people (former Cham people and Phu Yen’s current ethnic groups).  The image of Da Bia Mountain has come into many well-known poems, literature works as well as in ancient stories and songs, etc. which have been existed through generations, reflecting many aspects of their daily lives. It proves that, Da Bia Mountain has long been the meaningful symbol, which is highly appreciated by local people during the process of protecting and developing the homeland.

A National Beauty Spot in Phu Yen, Da Bia Mountain

Da Bia Mountain- A symbol of nature in Phu Yen

Along with the cultural-historical values, Da Bia Mountain is also a beautiful destination which attracts tourists in Vietnam travel with fascinating scenery, fresh atmosphere, and diverse eco-system. Da Bia Mountain’s peak is the ideal place to enjoy the majestic landscape. Standing on the mountain peak, visitors joining tours in Vietnam will have an overview of the giant landscape picture with mountains, river, lake, bay, rice fields, villages and people by the side of the ocean.

If possible, please come to Da Bia Mountain, then explore and enjoy the natural landscape, and to understand more about the local land and local people.

Cua Lo Golf Resort – Attractive destination in Nghe An

10 Jan

Cua Lo Golf Resort is a sport and leisure destination, consisting of a 5-star and 3-star hotels, luxury villas, 18-hole golf course and a beach recretion area.

The resort, located on Binh Minh Street, a main road in Cua Lo Township, Nghe An extends over 1.2 km along an intact sandy beach in an area of 133ha.

Spreading along on of the most gorgeous beaches of Vietnam, Cua Lo Golf Course with natural sand dunes anh native Casarina forest offers golfers a real taste of surprising challenges and exciting golfing experiences from Vietnam tourism.

Cua Lo Golf Resort, the convergence of sports, beach, leisure and nature, is an ideal destination for those who love golf, an elite sport, and wish to indulge themselves with luxurious retreats.

The tourists who come to Cua Lo Golf Course not only can play golf but also relax with many kinds of tourist services, therefore, Cua Lo Golf Course attracts a lot of tourists, especially international tourists with attractive eco-system.

Specifically, many villas which are being finished will be used in July. Currently, the golf practice center attracts a large number of customers. With the advantage location, Cua Lo GOLF RESORT is becoming an attractive destination for domestic and international visitors to Cua Lo town.

Ba Na Mountain Resort – An ideal destination in Central Vietnam

10 Dec

With a height of 1,487m above the sea level and a temperate climate, Ba Na Mountain is a real treasure of Vietnam. Only a 50km drive from Danang city to the West, tourists in Vietnam travel can reach one of the most spectacular sights that is Ba Na.

As not far from Danang city, only about 50km to the west, tourists in Vietnam travel can finally reach one of the most spectacular sights you would have ever visited. With a height of 1,487 meters above the sea lever and a temperate climate, Ba Na Mountain is a real treasure of the country.

Ba Na Danang

For many reasons, travelers joining tours in Vietnam come to Ba Na, but no one can deny that the rejuvenating atmosphere and the wonderful scenery of Ba Na influence them the most when deciding to come to this unique land. To get to the top of Ba Na Mountain, tourists would have to conquer a 15-kilometer zigzag road if they visited some years ago (the topography there is pretty flat like a mini highland, luckily!).

Nowadays, as the longest cable car system in the world has been constructed there, no one have to bear the long and taunting 15-kilometer trip anymore. You can still do if you happen to be an adventurer, but it is highly recommended that you take the cable car.

The reason is not for safety, of course but you will gain the rewarding experience of looking over a huge scenery of Danang City, VungThung bay, Hai Van Pass, Son Tra Peninsula, My Khe Beach, Marble Mountain and Thu Bon River, Cu Lao Cham Island. In only a ride, you will witness a like-no-other Fengshui picture.

Each of the four seasons appears within a single day in Ba Na: spring in the morning, summer at noon, autumn in the afternoon and winter at night. One particular characteristic is that the clouds are at the mid-height of the mountain, so the peaks are always clear. Ba Na also possesses very beautiful forests with green pine hills.

Bana mountain resort

Moreover, Ba Na has a diverse ecosystem, including primitive jungles which are home to 256 animal species and 543 plants species, eco-tourism has developed there for a long time. Particularly, many villages, resorts and hotels have been built on the slopes of Ba Na Mountain and King Mountain since the beginning of the 20th century. Even though the wars have destroyed a great part of these constructions, they have been restored recently to their former glories.

With its wild beauty endowed by the Nature, Ba Na Mountain welcomes thousands of visitors from everywhere in the world annually. It promises to attract more tourists in Vietnam, contributing to the tourism development of Danang city next time.

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