Investment, better legal framework needed for cruise growth

A cruise docks at Đà Nẵng’s Tiên Sa Port on a tour in Việt Nam. The country’s cruise industry has not yet invested enough to make it a top destination in Asia and the world. VNS Photo Công Thành

ĐÀ NẴNG – The marine tourism sector, which is a top priority of the country’s sea economy Master Plan 2030-45, has been struggling to attract investment in cruise harbours and coastal infrastructure to lure globally branded cruise fleets connected with worldwide destinations.
Chairman of the Việt Nam Tourism Association Vũ Thế Bình said cruise services are one of the key products in building marine tourism as a core part of the ‘blue sea economy’ plan.

Bình said sea tourism is still dealing with barriers that have blocked business and kept investors at bay for decades.

He said bottlenecks for tourism businesses and investors were the legal framework, destination management and poorly linked tour services among the 28 coastal provinces.

Vũ Duy Vũ, a senior expert of cruise service from Sài Gòn Tourist agency, said less complicated visa arrival procedures, upgrading ports and a highway system connecting ports and destinations are necessary for the cruise industry to thrive.

“Almost all cruises have to dock at cargo ports in Việt Nam, while international standards for entertainment and free-duty shops at arrival ports have yet to be developed,” Vũ said.

“Representative offices of the country’s tourism industry are not available at key cruise markets such as the US, Australia and EU,” he said.

A tourist enjoys kayaking in Hạ Long Bay during a cruise tour in Quảng Ninh. More services and entertainment are needed for cruise growth in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of Phạm Hà

Phạm Hà, CEO of Lux Group, said the port system from Hải Phòng to HCM City was poor quality and could not handle giant luxury or middle class cruise ships.

Hà said his own ship in Hạ Long Bay needs permissions from 18 local authorities to offer on-board night-stay service, while the group’s Emperor Cruise in Nha Trang had to get an international travel certificate to host dinner on board as ordered by the local tourism authority.

He explained that tourists on his cruise had to transship to visit Lan Hạ Bay in neighbouring Hải Phòng after finishing a tour in Bái Tử Long in Hạ Long Bay of Quảng Ninh province.

Hà said a one-stop procedure and GPS control given by port authorities of Quảng Ninh and Hải Phòng can help cruises exchange tour service at both bays.

Vũ Văn Đảo, director of Vũng Tàu Marina, a ship building company, said his company had to close in 2020 due to regulations on ship management and registration.

He said his 20-seat ships using Copolymer Polypropylene Polystone (PPC) from Europe were not registered for operation as no regulations on new materials for ship building existed.

Đảo said his new double-hull sailing boat design was used for hosting sailing festivals, but was refused by the local industrial park management board.

Flexible and quick responses are needed from local administrations to support the tourism business, he said.

Phạm Ngọc Thủy, director of Quảng Ninh provincial department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said every local destination should build their own unique product that would help keep cruise visitors in Việt Nam longer.

A sailing race is organised in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu. The service is rarely offered in coastal provinces and cities serving cruises in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of Vũng Tàu Marina

Quảng Ninh is a rare locality investing in ports for cruise ships, while Đà Nẵng has begun changing dual-use Tiên Sa Port for cruises only.

Thủy said local ports could be built to link cruise tour services with ports in Singapore and East Asia or Southeast Asia for wider options in different countries and destinations.

Adventurous beach sports, diving, kayaking, fishing, night art performances and entertainment should be included for local cruise fleets, while preferential policies are needed for investors in infrastructure, ship building and cruise ports, Hà added. — VNS

Cong Thanh – Vietnamnews.vn

Kayaking in Lan Ha Bay – The Completed Guide to Explore One of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World

December 13, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

When you have chance to visit Lan Ha Bay in the Cat Ba Archipelago aboard Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago, besides swimming, climbing or visiting some famous caves, the most activities to discovery Halong Bay is kayaking. Most cruises in Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay or Lan Ha Bay offer kayaking. Kayaking will make your Lan Ha Bay trip more interesting, when you get closer to the caves, beaches and limestone Islands. Kayaking is generally assumed to be very safe in these calm waters of the Gulf of Tonkin but there is still some areas and warning that you should avoid and listen to the tour guide. So you should know some steps about kayaking in Lan Ha Bay for your safe and enjoy wonderful trip:

STEP 1- PREPARE BEFORE KAYAKING – IMPORTANT STEP:

• Necessary things: Life vests, water, sun cream, dry bag, camera, insect repellent
• Carefully follow the instructions and conditions before kayaking wear the life vest and use the dry bag (put on it your phone, camera, etc…)
• Prepare suitable clothes: T-shirt and short, swimming suit in the summer; warm clothes in the winter; wet shoes, hat, sunglasses. Lan Ha Bay water is pretty warm during winter so feel free to kayaking anytime of the year. However, keep yourself warm after you are done with the activity to avoid catching a cold.
• Keep a suitable distance with the others, not too far, keep in sight with the others, and avoid getting loss
• Even if you are an experienced kayaker, don’t come too close to caves and karsts. They might suck you in. There are reports of people getting sucked into caves and it took from 30 minutes to hours to rescue them. (especially in Dark Cave or Ba Trai Dao Beaches)
• Never kayaking while being intoxicated. Drinking will dull your sense and might lead to unfortunate accident. There incidents of people drown because of swimming after consuming a large amount of alcohol.
• For the children should be follow the tour guide and their parents. Sit still in the kayak, do not move in front of or behind
• Children under 5 years old is suggest not using kayak

STEP 2 – WHEN YOU KAYAKING:

• It is very important to follow your tour guide, listen to the route, time and rules.
• Check with your tour guide the weather, tide and wind strength to have the best and safest route.
• Keep away from the places which have strong flow, against the wind; take advantage of the wind strength and flow.

STEP 3- HANDLE UNEXPECTED SITUATIONS:

• Adjust the speed of the whole group if any of the members is out of sight.
• In case the kayak capsizes, passengers need to swim a bit, and then take the water out of the kayak with the help of the tour guide. He will catch the kayak; take the water out by putting your kayak on his in the T- shape. After that, he will put the kayak back into the water; keep it still so that passengers can be on the kayak again.
• If there is an expected storm, find the safest place in the sheltered areas, beaches… to avoid the storm. In case passengers are in the middle of the sea and cannot find a safe place, passengers need to be gathered to make a raft kayaking is extremely an interesting activity in Lan Ha Bay. You also can enjoy kayaking for Halong 1 day tour however you only have about 15 to 20 minutes for kayaking at the small floating village (Ba Hang village). Normally with the tour 2 days 1 night, you also have change to kayak at Luon cave, kayak though this cave can bring you an impressive feeling. If you are like kayaking, 3 days 2 nights cruises is a best choice, you will have more time to explore Lan Ha Bay as well as have more than 3 hours for kayaking. In conclusion, kayaking is not difficult and we wish you enjoy it completely. Heritage Binh Chuan offers from 1 to 4 nigt cruise program including kayak experiences, discover more at www.heritagecruises.com

Discover, Explore, Experience Lan Ha Bay, One of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World.

December 12, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

Dark and bright cave

Overview

Dark and Bright Cave lie in the bordering area between Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay, this area is located in the protected area of Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve. Coming to Dark and Bright Cave, tourists will be indulged in nature with the blue water and fresh air. The best way to admire the majestic foundation of the cave is to go kayaking or row bamboo boats. Inside Dark and Bright Cave, there are a lot of emulsions and stalactites with different shapes. This is also a safe place for cruises to anchor and provide shelter for fishermen in the rainy season. Adventuring along Dark and Bright Cave, visitors will be overwhelmed by the poetic, lyrical and pristine beauty that Mother Nature has endowed this destination.

 

About Dark and Bright Cave Halong Bay

Dark Cave and Bright Cave are underwater ones, so the formation of these caves is different from other dry caves. Thus, Dark Cave and Bright Cave possess outstanding and distinguishing beauty. In the process of geological activities in Halong Bay, there are three types of caves which were formed by the impact of water on the karst topography. They are the ancient underground cave, Carxto cave, and frog’s jaw cave. Dark Cave and Bright Cave are frog’s jaw caves, while the cave floor is under the sea, the cave ceiling is beyond the water. With the unique topography and tectonics, the caves are only accessible by boat.

Things to do in Dark and Bright Cave Halong Bay

Tourists coming to Dark and Bright Cave have plentiful interesting options. You can choose to participate in many water activities such as: go kayaking to explore the beauty of the magnificent scenery, sit and sunbathe on the beach or swim and snorkel to discover the marine life.

Dark and Bright Cave is an ideal destination for those who are keen on kayaking and exploring nature. Kayaking is the best way to explore Dark and Bright Cave. With the kayak, visitors can get closer to the foot of the mountain, discover the beauty of nature, clearly see the erosion of water and waves into the limestone cliffs. When rowing into the caves, you are sure to be overwhelmed by the miraculous stalactites on the ceiling and cave walls. This is also a rare chance for you to capture memorable beautiful photos of the majestic Halong Bay.

Go through Bright cave, tourists will come to a lovely valley surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges. This setting gives travellers a feeling of being lost in Heaven. It is such a wonderful experience to sit on the kayak and slowly watch the scenery, breath in the fresh air and feel the harmony among the sea, mountain and sky. You will certainly be happy and full of vitality to get away from your bustling and busy life. Dark and Bright Cave is an ideal place for you which combine the beauty of nature with many sports and activities for tourists to enjoy.

Destination Gallery

Three Peaches Islet

Overview

Ba Trai Dao Islet is cluster of three small limestone mountains, more than 20 meters height, looking like three peaches rising from the water. This is also one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in Halong Bay. Three Peaches Beach shapes like a bow with smooth long white sand and becomes popular among tourists for its unspoiled, charming splendor.

About Ba Trai Dao Islet (Also known as Three Peaches Islet)

A tearful love story about Ba Trai Dao Islet

Legend has it that: Once upon a time, there was a fairy goddess who came to visit Halong Bay, she came to this place and she fell in love with a local poor fisherman. Their love grew stronger that she wanted he lived an immortal life with her forever. In order to do so, she stole three peaches from heaven garden for him. Jade Emperor knew about that and got very angry with her. He turned three peaches into three stone islands to imprison the man and forced the fairy goddess to return to heaven… Nowadays, Ba Trai Dao Islet has become an interesting destination for those who like pristine nature and adventure.

Splendid natural beauty

Come to Ba Trai Dao Islet, you can immerse in the clear blue water, enjoy the beautiful white sand. In sunny days, the water is crystal to see the bottom and ideal to snorkel for watching aquatic life. The beach is surrounded by rocky mountains, so there are no big winds and waves, which is very safe for small children. The cliffs above the beach create exotic shapes offering many photo opportunities for visitors. Moreover, Ba Trai Dao Islet provides an abundance of places for plants to grow and animals to live, creating a very lively natural landscape.

Things to do in Ba Trai Dao Islet

Ba Trai Dao Islet is located in a more secluded part of Halong Bay, there are not too many tourists passing through, so it still retains many wild and rustic features. The most popular activity here is kayaking, almost tour itineraries include kayak for your journey. You can row through the cliff corners, among imposing mountains to explore clear hidden lagoons, varied indigenous flora species, and animals living on limestone islets.

Tourists also enjoy being immersed in the water, swimming and relaxing, sunbathing on the white sand. However, if the tide rise, the whole beach will be under the water. You can only swim and enjoy the beach for 2-3 hours a day, so you should check the tides schedule before going there. Anyway, this is a not-to-miss attraction when coming to Halong Bay. You should bring the camera to capture the beautiful scenery and splendid natural splendor of Ba Trai Dao Islets.

All year round, thousands of tourists come here to sightsee and admire the beauty that Mother Nature has given to this place. Nowadays, Ba Trai Dao Islets is one of the most amazing destinations of Halong Bay that all tourists want to discover and explore.

Cua Van Village

Overview

Cua Van Floating Fishing Village is located in Hung Thang commune (Halong city), about 20 km away from Halong Tourist Port. This area is surrounded by majestic limestone mountains, so the water is calm with no big waves, which is ideal for anchorage and people to cluster into a floating village. The village is about tens kilometers far away from the shore, lying alongside stone cliffs.

About Cua Van Floating Fishing Village

The serene beauty of Cua Van Floating Fishing Village

The prestigious travel magazine Journeyetc.com acknowledged Cua Van Floating Fishing Village as one of 16 most beautiful ancient villages in the world due to its ancient charm, beautiful scenery and well-preserved traditional culture. Cua Van Floating Fishing Village lies beneath majestic limestone mountains, floats on the ocean and blends perfectly with natural surroundings. The scenery is extremely romantic and leaves a distinct impression in the hearts of tourists. Cua Van Floating Fishing Village is one of only a few places that still retain the original unspoiled splendor. Local people routines have not disturbed by the bustling pace of modern life.

Floating life of local people

Cua Van Floating Fishing Village originates from two ancient villages named Giang Voong and Truc Vong. Residents of the village have been around for a very long time. Nowadays, there are more than 300 households with over 750 inhabitants live mainly by fishing and fish farming in Cua Van Floating Fishing Village. Generations of fishermen set up houses, live and pass down the traditional floating lifestyle to their children.

Cua Van Floating Fishing Village attracts tourist, not only because the beautiful natural scenery is outstanding, but also local residents are aware of keeping their living environment green and clean. At Cua Van, all floating houses are very tidy, people take turns to collect trash and garbage on the sea every day. They save fresh water, reduce the amount of waste in the marine environment. Journeyetc.com highly appreciates the preserving consciousness of the people. Cua Van is well worth a visit when traveling to Halong Bay.

Things to do in Cua Van Floating Fishing Village

Coming to Cua Van Floating Fishing Village, visitors not only have a chance to see the natural scenery, learn about the cultural life of the fishermen, but visitors can also sail around the village and take part in many interesting activities in local daily life.

Under the instructions of local villagers, visitors can spread the catching net, fish squids, and enjoy the seafood that they have caught. Especially on festive occasions or wedding ceremonies, visitors can have an unforgettable experience to enjoy endemic folk songs of local fishermen such as traditional love songs, ferry songs (imitating rowing rhythms).

Moreover, your journey will be filled with exciting adventurous activities. It is an interesting option for tourist to explore Tien Ong Cave nearby. Ba Ham Lake is also an attractive destination for activities such as caving, kayaking, and swimming. Almost visitor will have a good time to row bamboo boats to discover around the village, chat with locals, fish squids and enjoy the marine beautiful tranquil scenery. Cua Van Fishing Village becomes one of the most charming destinations that you want to visit in your lifetime trip to Halong Bay.

Viet Hai Village

Overview

Viet Hai Village is a small village, located in the core of Cat Ba National Park in Cat Hai Island district, Hai Phong. Due to its remote location, there are not many indigenous peoples living there. However, Viet Hai Village has recently become an attractive destination for domestic and foreign tourists, especially for trekkers and bikers.

How to get to Viet Hai Village Cat Ba

Travellers first have to arrive at Beo Port in Cat Ba Island, from there, you take the ferry or boat to Viet Hai Port. Viet Hai Village is about 5 km from the port, you can walk, rent bicycles, take trams to get to the village. Trams can carry up to 12 passengers per trip and the monolithic road to the village has been concretised for easier transportation.

Local life in harmony with nature

Viet Hai Village has over 70 roofs. Most of which are traditionally made from bamboos, clay, and straw. To build an old-style house, they first mix mud and straw into a dense mixture, then cover the mixture over bamboo sticks, leave the mixture to condense to make hard walls. The roof is covered with thick layers of grass. This mud-walled cottage is a typical image of Vietnamese Northern countryside, that only a few ancient villages still retain this unique type of house.

The tranquil and peaceful life in Viet Hai contrasts with the bustling noisy of other tourist attractions. It is good to have some quiet moments, just to relax and get away in a remote area lying in the middle of deep valleys, geographically divided by the ocean that only a few people have ever set foot on.

Community-based tourism in Viet Hai Village

Viet Hai Village has been developing as a community-based ecotourism destination that attracts many travellers. Especially foreign tourists who want to experience and explore rustic village life and wide nature. Community-based tourism is a focus to support the livelihoods of local people, helps them to earn more income, integrates them into the outside world. Despite the lack of conditions, Viet Hai also has many advantages in terms of natural landscape and distinctive cultural characteristics to attract tourists.

Activities in Viet Hai Village for Travellers

Viet Hai villagers are very sensitive when providing services. They send people to tourist centers such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City to learn about community-based tourism and how to apply to their condition. Besides their work on the field, they also work as local tour guides, hosts, and drivers for tourists. Local people supply and directly serve every need of visitors. Some families operate homestay services and set up small eateries providing local specialties. In Viet Hai Village, travellers can admire the simple rustic beauty when walking through the green rice fields, cycling along winding countryside roads, breathing fresh air and feeling the serenity in every corner of this peaceful village. It is such a memorable experience to enjoy the scenery of mountains, forests, and ocean, all in one place.

Years recently, Viet Hai Village has welcomed thousands of visitors to visit and experience the life and activities of villagers. With the extensive participation of locals in organising activities and supplying services, tourism in Viet Hai becomes a unique, attractive and sustainable tourism product.

Lan Ha Bay

Overview

Lan Ha Bay is located in the southeast of Cat Ba Town, adjacent to Halong Bay. This is a peaceful gulf-shaped bay with about 400 islets and islands in various sizes creating a magnificent picture depicting the fairylike seascape. All the big and small islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered with green trees and rich organism, which triggers the curious mind of worldwide travelers.

About Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay possesses a high density of limestone mountains which are primitive, peaceful and precious in biological value. There are a lot of pristine mountains with many shapes depending on visitors’ imagination such as Wooden Shoe Islet, Bat Islet… Lan Ha Bay is also the cradle of gulfs and caves, which have not been discovered yet. Besides, travelers are stunned by stalactite grottoes with distinguishing features such as Ham Rong Cave, Do Cung Cave, Ca Cave…

Compared to Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay is more charmingly romantic with 139 golden-sand beaches, lovely and desolate beaches inviting visitors to explore. Many sandy beaches stretch between rocky mountains offering quietness with no big waves, which are really the ideal places for swimmers. And under the turquoise water in Van Boi Beach, Van Ha Beach, Sen Island, Monkey Island, travelers can also get snorkel and dive to appreciate the colorful coral reefs and many aquatic creatures.

Da Chong Islet

Ho Ba Ham Islet

Overview

Ho Ba Ham Islet lies on Dau Be Island in the southernmost part of Halong Bay, 25 km away from the tourist port. Ho Ba Ham Islet is in the middle of a narrow rectangular sea, surrounded by high upright limestone mountains. Under the foot of the mountains, there are three water caves. To go from one cave to another, visitors have to sail through tunnels with low domes. From the ceilings, many stalactites hang down creating beautiful natural scenery.

About Ho Ba Ham Islet

Natural characteristics of Ho Ba Ham Islet

Ho Ba Ham Islet consists of three large lakes interconnected by a narrow winding tunnel. This tunnel is actually the upper part of a water cave, a typical form of limestone karst that was eroded by water, waves, and tides. Each cluster of colorful stalactites drops from the tunnel ceiling with strange shapes. On the islet, lots of evergreen plants like orchids, banyan trees, palms are growing to create a favorable living environment for endemic animal species of Halong Bay such as golden monkeys, flying squirrels, bats, rare birds. Under the blue water of three lakes, there is the vibrant life of many marine species.

From the entrance, visitors will go through a tunnel into the first lake. Inside the tunnel, stalactites in multi colors look like a bunch of fibrous roots. Going about 100 meters further, there is a light beam from the ceiling of the tunnel, where you will see many kinds of orchids clinging to the cliffs, clusters of evergreen trees in rocky mountains. Then, the second lake opens and has an ancient star fruit tree growing on the southeast cliff that gives fruit all year round. Passing through a cavern for about 5 minutes from there, you will reach the third lake. This is a peaceful home to many kinds of rare birds and butterflies.

The ecological diversity of Ho Ba Ham Islet

Ho Ba Ham Islet still retain the wild and mysterious nature without the impact of human. With ideal ecological conditions, Ba Ham Lake is a habitat of typical ecosystem. There are many endemic plant species of tropical forests growing on the cliffs such as azaleas, ferns, and palm trees. Squirrels, monkeys, birds also choose this place as their home and often go out to eat, so visitors can watch the animals like in a natural zoo. The water of three lakes is crystal clear to see the fish swimming around and special aquatic systems at the bottom.

Things to do in Ho Ba Ham Islet

With many great advantages, Ho Ba Ham Islet is gradually becoming one of the most attractive destinations in Halong Bay. To explore the beauty of Ho Ba Ham Islet, visitors can row bamboo boats or kayaks to go further into the lakes. It is also an ideal place for swimmers and snorkelers. Most of cruising itineraries are considered Ho Ba Ham Islet as a highlight of the trip. You should choose the overnight cruise to have a good amount of time to visit this interesting destination. It is advisable to rent a kayak to truly enjoy a moment of your own and admire the charming beauty of Ho Ba Ham Islet.

Destination Gallery

Cat ba Island

Overview

Cat Ba Island is located only 30km from Hai Phong city center and 25km from Ha Long City. From Hai Phong, it is very convenient for tourists to take a ferry or speedboat to visit Cat Ba. Or you can enjoy cruising from harbors in Quang Ninh to have an exciting journey through the Natural Wonder Halong Bay to reach Cat Ba Island.

About Cat Ba Island

Best time to travel to Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island has a favorable weather condition, so visitors can travel Cat Ba all year round. In any season at any time, Cat Ba has its unique charm. While domestic tourists often go there in the summer, international tourists mainly visit Cat Ba Island from November to March.

High season in Cat Ba is the summer time from May to August, therefore, if you can arrange, you should go before or after the high season, or you should go in the weekdays to avoid the crowds.

Cat Ba’s natural charm

You will feel like to enter a new world when setting foot on Cat Ba Island. It is very comfortable and refreshing to travel on the road through the dense green forest to reach the island heart. The mountain passes are quite challenging for the adventurous tourists. Admiring the spectacular sceneries on the road, you will understand why biking tour across the island is the first choice of foreign guests.

How to get to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi
  • BUS from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island

The fastest and cheap way how to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island by bus. Bus is going over the longest sea-crossing bridge in Southeast Asia – Tan Vu – Lach Huyen (opened in September 2017) and is going directly to the Cat Ba town on the island over the Cat Hai Island. A short boat transfer of bus (10 minutes) from the Got Port (Bến phà Gót) to the Cái Viềng port.

Bus is going over the longest sea-crossing bridge in Southeast Asia – Tan Vu – Lach Huyen (opened in September 2017)

  • TRAIN + SPEEDBOAT from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island

First let’s cover the details for taking a train and then a speedboat from Hanoi to Cat Ba via Hai Phong. Hanoi Railway Station is pretty central and only around a 20 minute walk from the centre of the old quarter.

From here you will take a train into Ga Hải Phòng Railway Station. This part of this route option from Hanoi to Cat Ba will take around 2 hours 45 minutes.

  • Speedboat from Hai Phong (Pha Binh port) to Cat Ba Island
  • BUS + SPEEDBOAT from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island

Bus from Hanoi to Hai Phong

This last option for getting from Hanoi to Cat Ba involves first taking a bus from Hanoi to Hai Phong and the speedboat option from Hai Phong to Cat Ba as detailed above in option 2.

  • FLIGHT from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Island (Seaplane)

Swimming in Cat Ba Beaches

Things to do in Cat Ba Island

In Cat Ba, there are 3 most popular tourist beaches: Cat Co 1, 2 and 3, with clear water and near the town center. In particular, Cat Co 1 beach is larger and more favorable, with three sides surrounded by rocky mountains. Cat Co 2 and 3 are smaller but quite peaceful. The beaches are connected by a small path along the mountain.

Hiking

If you want to have a panoramic view of Cat Ba, you should hike the crest of 177m high Gun Fortress. It is not only a historical relic, which marked the brilliant achievements of the local people; this place also has an ideal location with 3 sides facing the ocean. What a spectacular location to just sit there while sipping coffee and watching the romantic sunset.

Kayaking

The best water sport to try in Cat Ba is to go kayaking. You are sure to be overwhelmed by the majestic landscape and seascape here.

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park is one of the unique biosphere reserves recognized by UNESCO. This is a real paradise for those who love to explore nature and challenge themselves. The typical route is only about 1.8 km, while the longest crossing mountain to Viet Hai fishing village is about 16 km. You can see countless species of endemic species, luckily you can see the Cat Ba langur – the symbol of the island.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay is one of seven wonder in the world, with area is 1553 km2. Halong Bay consists of 1969 island and islet, most of which are limestones. specific feature of Ha Long Bay is the abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands.  It was declared twice time by UNESCO in 1994 and 2011. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. Ha Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

Go back in the time with Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago

December 5, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

The greatest Vietnamese ship called Binh Chuan designed entirely and totally by Vietnam people was first built and sailed from Hai Phong to Sai Gon. The ship made a voyage of national pride, culture and ambition of Vietnamese who dreamt of revitalizing the national commerce and economy. It was a voyage of aspiration to contribute to build a stronger nation of Vietnam.

Today, the Heritage Cruises represents that historical vessel while guiding travelers around the pristine and magnificent Lan Ha Bay and re-creating the Binh Chuan story. Board our Heritage Cruises, and be prepared to relive that glorious historical moment!

rom a childhood dream…

As a teenager, Pham Ha, the co-founder of Heritage Cruises, cruised from Haiphong City to Ho Chi Minh City

just a few years after the unification of South and North Vietnam.Even then he had plans to build his own cruise ships, to have his own fleet, so he could share his passion for his country.

He fell in love at first sight with Halong Bay in 1995 and came to know every single island, sometimes spending a week camping on the isolated beaches and exploring remote islands by kayak.

In 1997, he took a film crew there for 2 months to make the ‘Vertical Ray of the Sun’ – a film by the famous director, Tran Anh Hung, which was filmed in Cua Van Floating Village, near Three Peach Beaches, on the frontier between Halong Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago.

His personal mission is to deliver happiness. He is passionate about quality cruising, heritage, culture and history.

Pham Ha is recognized internationally in the tourism business and knows the market well. As a result, he initially built a fleet of cruise ships in Nha Trang Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.
The building of a new fleet in the Cat Ba Archipelago, the Red River and in the future for longer trips from north to south Vietnam is a continuation of his childhood dream.

o the first Vietnamese boutique cruise in the Gulf of Tonkin

Heritage Cruises derives inspiration for its boutique concept and design from the heritage ships of the inspirational patriotic entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi, who transformed transportation on the waterways in Tonkin in North Vietnam in the early 20th century.

Inspiration from the King of Vietnamese Cruise: Bach Thai Buoi

The Vietnamese used to say the phrase: “First Si, Second Phuong, Third Xuong and Fourth Buoi” to refer to the top 4 wealthy and successful Vietnamese men. “Fourth Buoi” is no one but the businessman and entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi.

At the age of 20, Bach Thai Buoi found his interest in doing business. In 1908 – 1909, he decided to take his first steps into the waterway transport industry which was exclusively and mostly owned by the Chinese at that moment.

Regardless of the high competitiveness against French and Chinese waterway companies, he established Bach Thai Buoi Maritime Company. With a tonnage of 600 tons and a 400 horsepower engine designed and built by Vietnamese, Binh Chuan ship was the peak of Bach Thai Buoi’s waterway transport career.

That Vietnamese-made ship set sail from Haiphong City to Sai Gon in 1920, receiving warm welcomes from Cochinchinese businessmen who even made a bronze board that read: “To Binh Chuan ship – the first Vietnamese ship in Saigon Port.

At that moment, the Binh Chuan ship carried more than just hundred tons of goods – it also took with it the national pride of each and every Vietnamese on the way. That voyage from Haiphong to Saigon was a loud and clear statement of the nation’s strong and rapid development.

– Cochinchinese businessmen

A symbol of Vietnamese national spirit and patriotism

Bach Thai Buoi gave up a peaceful life to embark on a business career not only because of wealth. It was his desire to affirm the position of Vietnamese in the market, proving that we are not inferior to any other nation.

Bach Thai Buoi was a role model of expressing national pride in his work. He hired mostly Vietnamese workers. He named his ships after Vietnamese nobles or historical milestones such as Dinh Tien Hoang, Bach Dang… Maybe this explained why he was so successful at that time – thanks to his sincere and moving patriotism.

For any Vietnamese, the national spirit and patriotism are always highly-regarded. As we suffered too much in the past, it is our instinct to love, respect and protect the country.

Heritage Cruises understand this – and we create a unique experience for all the tourists by representing not only the Binh Chuan cruise itself but also the spirit of it.

eritage Cruises: A voyage of culture and history

What makes Heritage Cruises stands out from the rest of vessels in Vietnam in general and in Lan Ha Bay in particular is the cultural and historical story embedded within each and every small detail of the ship.

100 years after Binh Chuan Cruise first built and set sail, travellers can now witness and experience the glory of that North – South ship while boarding the Heritage Cruises. The cruise has an antique beauty of the past while bringing luxury and modern services for travellers.

All is embedded in the atmosphere of Vietnamese culture, art and culinary on the made-in-Vietnam Heritage Cruise.

The sophisticated and antique style of Indochina

Inspired by the ship of Bach Thai Buoi, Heritage Cruises was the first cruise ever in Vietnam with an architectural style of Indochina in the 1930s. With its distinctive style, the cruise revives the past and honors Vietnam’s historical, cultural, artistic and culinary heritages in the 20th century.

Heritage Cruise is 75m long and 13m10 wide. It consists of 4 separate floors but only 20 spacious suites for 40 guests. There are 2 restaurants, 3 bars, 2 spa rooms, a four-season rooftop swimming pool, a bookstore and a mini gym – all up to standard of a 5-star resort and hotel.

Besides the luxurious amenities, Heritage Cruises also offers a pure Vietnamese cultural space and the atmosphere of culture, history, art and cuisine in the 20th century through a Bach Thai Buoi library and artful lobby lounge with nearly 100 paintings by “The Vietnamese Picasso” Pham Luc.

Even the names of the cruise, common spaces and rooms are customized to showcase the history and culture of Vietnam in the 1930s. Even the Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan was named after the Binh Chuan ship built in the 20th century, expressing the founder’s dream of writing the Bach Thai Buoi’s dream.

Heritage Cruises Cruise Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago brings you on the journey of exploring heritage with culture, art and national pride.- Mr. Ha shared

On the cruise, the art exhibition was named L’Art de l’Annam – a book of the same name, published in 1933 by Henri Gourdon, who was the director of the first Indochinese University – Université Indochinoise, who offered a view of the art of Annam from the perspective of a westerner.

Similarly, names were carefully chosen for the restaurants, bars, lounges and spa to maintain the overall spirit of the national pride and cultural stories: Bach Dang Wine Cellar, Le Tonkin, L’Indochine, Song Hong Lounge, and White Lotus Spa.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci’s quote captures Heritage Cruises’ vision and philosophy perfectly: the key principle behind every project is a devotion to simplicity, heritage, boutique and product authenticity.

An exploration of the pristine Lan Ha Bay

Cruising is all about destinations, experiences and memories.

Situated in the south of Ha Long Bay and the east of Cat Ba Island, Lan Ha Bay has an area of over 7,000 hectares with stunning beauty of around 400 large and small islands with many interesting shapes. Different from Halong Bay, all islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered with greenery – even the smallest islets.

Lan Ha Bay is the home of lots of mountains with different names depending on the imagination of tourists such as Hon Quoc Islet (Wooden Shoe islet) and Dao Khi – Monkey Island. Lan Ha Bay possesses about 139 beautiful sandy beaches and spreads over 7,000 ha including that the area of 5,400 ha is under-managed by The Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO – Cat Ba National Park.

In 2020, Lan Ha Bay officially becomes a member of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club.

While Halong Bay is often touristy and crowded, Lan Ha Bay has its own beauty of tranquility and pristinity. Besides, Cat Ba Archipelago is an exotic destination with pristine beaches, secluded lagoons, coves, tropical forest and lakes. Thanks to its isolation to the mainland, this charming destination preserves its unspoiled natural scenery to its best. The density of limestone islets in Lan Ha Bay is quite thick, creating smaller bays.

Although not too popular among tourists, Lan Ha Bay is considered as one of the most beautiful bays in Vietnam. Fall is the most beautiful time of the year in lan Ha Bay with light sunshine, cool weather and gentle breezes from the ocean.

All 139 beaches lying scattered throughout Lan Ha Bay allow tourists to contemplate from the cruises. The trio of Cat Co 1,2 and 3 Beach, Van Boi Beach, Ba Trai Dao Beach (Three Peaches Beach) and Tung Thu Beach are known as one of the most appealing beaches in Lan Ha Bay.

Ba Trai Dao Beach has attracted tourists by not only its charming beauty but an interesting myth to explain the appearance of the three rocks that give the islet its name as well. Tung Thu is another attractive one offering on the south coast of Cat Ba Island, while Van Boi offers the chance to engage in scuba-diving to watch the colorful coral reefs underwater.

Light and Dark Caves which are the two opposing ones, as their names, show the difference in the amount of light entering from outside. The Dark Cave is longer, so it’s necessary to require torches for discovering. Meanwhile, the Light Cave has a short corridor opening up into an amazing lake covered by stretching limestone cliffs.

Hospital Cave is the most interesting cave in terms of historical value since its large grottos made it an ideal place for taking care of and hiding the injured Viet Cong soldiers during the war against the American. Moreover, it’s hard to find the Hospital Cave from the ground and the air, making it perfect to rest up the troops and form attacking plans.

Viet Hai Fishing Village , which is an ecological attraction, appeals to tourists by tranquil and peaceful landscapes as well as hidden charm villages of local people and their lifestyles.

Even the voyage around Lan Ha Bay is filled with cultural stories which go well with the spirit of the Heritage Cruise.

et’s begin the voyage!

Almost a century after Bach Thai Buoi first built the Binh Chuan vessel, Heritage Cruise has now inherited the historical and cultural

stories in its design, spirit and voyage. This opens your chance to embark on a voyage through time on a Heritage Cruises ship – a vessel inspired by heritage designs and with impeccable service fit for the bourgeoisie from the 1930s.

Heritage Cruises is pure, artful and elegant in offering special perspectives on the Red River and the Gulf of Tonkin. The welcome is personal, the accommodation is sumptuous, and the views are simply gorgeous.

And yet it is the total experience − the unique impression derived from the cruise’s combination of quality, quintessence and ambiance in a spectacular location − that makes the cruising experience on Heritage Cruises unforgettable.

Heritage Cruise is not only a cabin or a suite. It is the overall experience, stories and dreams that we want to share.

Experiences with Lux Cruises

November 30, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

(Vietnam Today) – Nowaday, luxury yatchs have become a new tourist trend in Vietnam. Lux Cruises luxury cruise line provides customers with top-quality services and constant improvement in experiences for travelers, especially international travelers.

Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises are 5-star yachts and aim to provide the best experience for customers. However, the two brands also have a lot of differences in design ideas, product lines, and target customers.

The Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise, inspired by Vietnam’s King of Cruise Ships, Bach Thai Buoi (1874 – 1922), is the first yacht designed in a boutique concept style, suitable for many groups of guests, from young people, families, and elderly customers who like to participate in activities on board. Operating in Lan Ha bay, Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise is one of the first cruises to have the largest swimming pool in the North Bay with an exhibition space for paintings by the famous painter, Pham Luc, and plenty of space for visitors to visit and experience. With 20 spacious suites all provided with private balconies, panoramic windows overlooking the bay and bathrooms all with standing and lying bathtubs, visitors will truly feel comfortable and relaxed.

Meanwhile, The Emperor Cruises Legacy Halong was inspired by the Bao Dai emperor (1913 – 1997) and was completely designed in the royal style of the 1930s. It is the first cruise to operate in Ha Long bay and Bai Tu Long bay, offering package service, including free drinks, unlimited massage service, and 24/24 butler service. Although Emperor Cruises Legacy Halong has only 10 cabins, all rooms are suites with huge areas, amenities with private balconies or panoramic windows, and a Jacuzzi or bathtub. Customers can experience total relaxation sitting by the Sunset Bar and sunbathing on the deck while enjoying cocktails, listening to ocean rhythms and watching the sunset. Emperor Cruises also offers comprehensive wellness products to help travelers have the most fulfilling experiences on their journey.

If you choose to stay at the Nha Trang Emperor Cruises, you can immerse yourself in Trinh music nights while moon-watching in the bay and enjoying high-quality cuisine. You can also choose to rest on the beach in Nha Trang bay or participate in scuba diving tours at Mun island, have afternoon tea and explore the art of enjoying Vietnamese tea.

Lux Cruises also makes an effort to improve each guest meal experience by interacting with wine consultants and hosting a cocktail party to welcome the sunset on the pool bar and swimming pool. Award-winning chefs will create new seasonal dishes and enhance the food experience with new styles, especially the breezy dinner in the middle of the bay with music that will surely give every customer unforgettable memories.

Coming aboard on Lux Cruise yachts, customers can participate in scuba diving, sail to get to the beach area, and learn about the stories of Vietnam’s first luxury cruise brand.

Tuan Son

HANOI: The former capital of French Indochina and now the heart of the nation

October 8, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

In autumn of 1010, Emperor Ly Thai To decided to move the capital of the kingdom to Dai La (Hanoi today) from Hoa Lu (present Ninh Binh). He was mindful that the place was an ideal location with many advantages for wet rice farming and traffic thanks to a number of waterways, especially the Red River, the backyard of Ba Vi mountain, promising the long-term prosperous development of a capital and a nation. After moving the capital and renaming it Thang Long, Ly Cong Uan ordered the construction of a citadel to protect the city. Since then, Thang Long has become the political, economic, and cultural center of the country.

When the Nguyen dynasty was established in 1802, Emperor Gia Long moved the capital to Hue. Thang Long was no longer the capital, its Chinese characters was changed from 昇龍 (“Rising dragon”) to 昇隆 (“Ascent and prosperity”), aiming to reduce the sentiment of Le Dynasty. Emperors of Vietnam usually used dragon (龍 long) as a symbol of their imperial strength, and power. In 1831, the Nguyen emperor Minh Mang renamed it Hanoi (河內, “Between Rivers” or “River Interior”). Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. As Hanoi, it was located in the protectorate of Tonkin and became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.

The city was occupied by the Imperial Japanese in 1940 and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. However, the French returned and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954. The French Army withdrew that year and the People’s Army of Vietnam and International Control Commission occupied the city under the terms of the 1954 Geneva Conference. Following the end of the Vietnam and US war, Hanoi became the capital of a reunified Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on 2 July 1976.

Today, Hanoi is still a city of rivers, of which the Red River is the largest. For Hanoians, the Red River is not only a source of life, it is also a reflection of Vietnamese history and the capital city’s long prosperity. Heritage buildings such as churches, grand cathedrals, opera houses, clocks, colonial buildings, villas, museums, palaces, river ports, and iron bridges remain unchanged though some have disappeared. Many boulevards with French names have changed to Vietnamese names. Regrettably, the heritage street Bach Thai Buoi was changed to Nguyen Huu Huan alley in 1954 on the bank of Red River, but his former two-story office houses in Hang Muoi Street remain intact facing the clock with his former inland waterway port near Chuong Duong Bridge.

High-rise buildings are rare in this city which is striving to retain its character. Grand colonial buildings, tranquil lakes, and a maze of narrow streets provide intriguing contrasts. Hanoi is an elegant city with tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake (Grand Lac on postcards) at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling 36 guild streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Hanoi is truly a city of contrasts with areas of wide boulevards and large colonial buildings, reflecting its period as a French Protectorate, and other areas truly Vietnamese with a muddle of narrow streets which bustle from dawn to dusk.

Similarly to the guilded age of Europe, “Hanoi’s 36 districts” is Vietnam’s version of the guild concept. In the past, as artisans moved to the capital city to do business, they gathered together in this area to share the resources and built communal houses and their temples. As a result, many of the streets were named after the crafts sold at that individual street. Pho Hang Muoi (Rue du Sel or Salt Street), Pho Hang Bun (Vermicelli), Pho Hang Ma (Paper Product), Pho Hang Bac (Silver), Pho Hang Non (palm-leaf conical hat), … are examples of the streets carrying the name of the products sold there. Explore my rich collection of postcards about Hanoi’s old guild streets and iconic buildings of the capital of Indochina and now the heart of Vietnam.

What is a travel management company?

September 23, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

Global business travel industry spending was expected to hit USD 1.7 trillion by 2022, and despite the crisis, business travel is bouncing back fast. It means many businesses are now looking for a TMC: Travel Management Company so that they’re as prepared as can be for when business travel returns to 100%.

A travel management company is essentially a travel agent or travel agency for corporate travel needs. As technology evolves, we’re beginning to see more personalized TMC solutions providing so much more than the ability to only book travel. Business travel programs need TMCs that are more tech-savvy than ever before.

The Definition of a Travel Management Company (TMC)

A Travel Management Company (TMC) is a travel agent that fully manages the business travel requirements delegated by an individual, company or organisation to fundamentally save clients both time and money.

A TMC is also commonly known as a business travel agency or corporate travel provider.

As opposed to the traditional travel agent, which will usually deal with occasional leisure travel needs, a travel management company provides on-going services with the aim of providing cost savings, keeping control of a travel policy and allowing the client to spend less time on time-consuming travel arrangements.

A travel management company will typically use a GDS (Global Distribution System like Sabre or Amadeus) displaying real time availability to book flights, hotels and cars as well as other trusted software systems like Evolvi for train bookings.

Services Provided by a Travel Management Company

As well as simply making flight or hotel reservations, the TMC will offer many other ancillary services such as aircraft charter, airport lounges, parking and transfers, hotel bed requests, car hire, chauffeurs, foreign exchange, group travel, hotel bill backs, insurance, leisure travel, marine travel, meal requests, meet and greets, passport and visa procurement, rail tickets, roadshow services and venue sourcing.

Company and individual profiles are safely stored ensuring all personal travel requests are adhered to within an overall travel policy with every booking.

Other management services will often include MIS reporting, account management, risk management, cost/expense management, traveller tracking/security and travel policy adherence. Many TMCs will now also provide online self-booking tools whereby organisations can make their own flight and hotel reservations and bookings. Travel management companies will also typically negotiate with vendors/suppliers to provide discounted fares and loyalty programs.

The Future of the Global Travel Industry

What’s the future of the global travel industry? As economic prosperity rises throughout the world, the travel industry will be flooded by people from all over the world, and businesses are going to be at the forefront of this growth pushing their services to meet demand.

Expect the top 20 travel companies in the world to continues pushing the industry to new heights. The main thing to keep in mind going forward as more people travel from all over the world is that the future will be about more travelers and easier to reach places.

Rank Company Sales (USD billions) Headquarters No. of employees
1 Expedia Group $99 billion Bellevue, Washington, USA 24,000
2 Booking Holdings $92.7 billion Norwalk, Connecticut, USA 24,500
3 American Express Global Business Travel $33.7 billion Jersey City, New Jersey, USA 17,400
4 BCD Travel $27.1 billion Utrecht, Netherlands 13,800
5 CWT $25 billion Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA 18,000
6 Flight Centre $16 billion Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 20,600
7 Travel Leaders Group $7.12 billion New York City, New York, USA 4,000
8 American Express Travel $6.27 billion New York City, New York, USA 5,000
9 Direct Travel $5.4 billion Centennial, Colorado, USA 2,000
10 Corporate Travel Management $5 billion Denver, Colorado, USA 725
11 Fareportal $4.32 billion New York City, New York, USA 3,700
12 American Automobile Association $3.94 billion Heathrow, Florida, USA 4,401
13 Travel and Transport $3.2 billion New York City, New York, USA 1,610
14 Frosch $2.05 billion New York City, New York, USA 1,125
15 Omega World Travel $1.41 billion Fairfax, Virginia, USA 540
16 JTB Americas Group $1.37 billion Torrance, California, USA 2,234
17 World Travel $1.26 billion Exton, Pennsylvania, USA 523
18 World Travel Holdings $1.2 billion Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA 1,239
19 Ovation Travel Group $1.16 billion New York City, New York, USA 585
20 ATG $857 million New Albany, Ohio, USA

Best Boutique Cruise Line

August 30, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

Embark on a journey back in time to Vietnam in 1930s with Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago boutique lifestyle cruise in Lan Ha Bay in Cat Ba Archipelago. Combining the classical charm of French Indochina with a sense of timeless chic that only the Lux Cruises can provide, the cruise is as much an art and heritage space as it is a 5 star cruise. Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago invites guests to relive the romance of this bygone era in their boutique cruise which offers all the comforts of the 21st century.
The most luxurious cruise in Vietnam has many cultural features, bringing with it the stories of cultural and historical heritage, fine art, architecture, fashion, and the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine. The yacht is newly built based on the Binh Chuan ship built by the ship king Bach Thai Buoi, the first Vietnamese to launch a ship from Hai Phong to Saigon. From the point of departure 100 years ago, today’s Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan takes travelers on a journey to discover Lan Ha Bay in style, a vast sea area with hundreds of islands, lagoons, and beaches, large and small, an experience recognized by the world. Channel 14 describes it “as beautiful as a dream” and Leonardo DiCaprio praises the ‘paradise’ beauty of Lan Ha Bay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45UNROguoNM&t
On the cruise, travelers can discover the authenticity of Lan Ha Bay, Binh Chuan Heritage Cruise will bring travelers into a traditional cultural space, the glorious legend of the intangible heritage, and enjoy the beauty of the natural heritage of Vietnam. Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise will bring the most authentic experiences with a minimum of 40 guests and a maximum of 60 passengers on a magnificent and sophisticated cruise operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. Savored travelers will immerse into the culture, history, art, and people of Vietnam when cruising on a unique cruise amidst natural wonders. On this heritage cruise, travel connoisseurs can go upstream of history and culture to learn the business story of “Vietnam’s king of ships” Bach Thai Buoi and the life of the “Vietnamese Picasso“, Pham Luc, through a rich collection of 100 of his works collected and introduced by the owner Pham Ha in various locations.
Heritage Binh Chuan received the most prestigious award, TripAdvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice Awards “Best of The Best”. Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2020. Lux Cruises to expand the brand to Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province, and Cat Ba archipelago in Hai Phong city, for unique yachting experiences in the coming year.” Start our first expeditions on the Gulf of Tonkin and further expand between Hanoi and Halong Bay on the Red River and its tributaries, along the coastline of Vietnam, on the Mekong River and to other Southeast Asia countries.

Cac-Ba

August 23, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

Many legends and mythologies surround the island’s name
From my vintage postcards of French Indochina, I treasure a rich collection about local life, people, landscape, townscapes and villages in the early 1930s, as well as some of the many legends and myths which have been handed down the generations.
The first is the legend of the name ‘Cac-Ba’, which means Island of women in Vietnamese, where, once upon a time the island used to be the realm of women who grew vegetables and supplied food to the men so that they could have the strength to fight off invaders.
Cat Ba island is also characterized by the Kim Giao tree (scientific name Nageia-fleury) whose origin is linked with an ancient legend. These species grow in Cat Ba National Park and the most notable characteristic of these species is that the wood changes color when it comes into contact with any toxic substance. Therefore, in the past, this kind of wood was often used to make chopstick for the king.
The legend surrounds a romantic love story between a talented man, Kim Ngan, and a beautiful princess, Giao Thuy. The man was poisoned by envious and sycophantic courtiers and died. The princess cried so much for her lover that she lay down by his tomb and died with grief. Afterwards, two trees grew from the tomb and local people named the species Kim Giao in their honor.
Cat Ba is the largest of the 366 islands, spanning over 260 km2, that comprise the Cat Ba Archipelago, which makes up the southeastern edge of Halong Bay, and is a new hotspot for cruises, cultural activities, heritage travelers, and holidaymakers.

The Picasso of Vietnam – Painter Pham Luc

August 23, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

Painting is like exercising for painter Pham Luc. If he doesn’t paint something every day he feels slightly ill, which perhaps explains his prolific output and reputation as Vietnam’s Pablo Picasso.
Born in 1943, Luc has been around paint brushes for some 70 years. From the age of three he tried to turn things into paint brushes. It could be a piece of brick or charcoal, a tree branch, or a stone, and everywhere was his canvas. Often, he was scolded by his neighbors, whose house walls he used to express himself. Luckily, he later found a wide sand bank by the riverside near his home, where he could paint on the sandy canvas with a tree branch.
Growing up during wartime, the young Luc became a soldier after graduating from the Hanoi College of Fine Arts (now the Vietnam University of Fine Arts). But his passion for painting never ceased. As one of his hands held a gun, the other always held a brush. His constant companion has been paper, a brush, and colors. “The mission of a painter is to record what he observes,” Luc explained, “Life is so colorful. I don’t want to miss a thing.”
At times so focused on not missing a moment of life, he in turn often missed a train or was taken advantage of by thieves. Losing his tools was a disaster because such things were scarce in wartime. Necessity, though, is the mother of invention. Again, he tried to turn things into a canvas, such as sackcloth or a hammock, which these days his fans crazily hunt for.
Luc never limits himself to a particular style either. From his studies he took on styles from the French school of European art, Chinese water colors in Asian art, and four of the most famous and successful Vietnamese painters since 1945. Nghiem, Lien, Sang and Phai, who all graduated from L’Ecole des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine, diverged on totally different paths, with Nghiem’s convention, Lien’s softness and femininity, Sang’s strength, and Phai’s realism, so Luc’s art reflects where East meets West. He also challenges himself to use different mediums including oil paintings, painting on rice sacks, lacquer, silk paintings, paper, and wood engraving.
After finishing his army service, he started different canvases in every corner of his home, which became his work space. When painting a lacquer work and getting some of the materials stuck, he may change it to an oil painting and continue in a different mood. “Just leave me alone in a room with brushes, colors and an old radio playing pre-war Vietnamese music and I’ll work spontaneously, by feeling, without sketches,” he said.


Due to regular headaches from high blood pressure, Luc has suffered from insomnia since he was 14. Many new ideas flash into his mind at night when he tosses and turns in bed. He usually has no idea whether it comes from reality or a dream, but he quickly gets the idea down on canvas. Whenever he touches a brush, his headaches ease and he feels like he is dreaming. The next day he sometimes forgets his nocturnal creativity, waking in the morning to be pleasantly surprised at the new addition to his collection.
Ben Wilkinson, representative of Harvard Kennedy University (now USA Fullbright University) in Vietnam, is a Pham Luc collector. He noted that “Pham Luc’s paintings are like windows that we can look through to understand more about the country and the people of Vietnam, both in the past wartime and the present.”
The characters in Luc’s paintings are also diverse, such as a local market, Tet paintings, heritage depictions of Quan Ho, Ca Tru and A Dao songs, Cheo or Tuong theatre the hero Thanh Giong, or the poet Nguyen Du. Women seem to inspire him more. It may be a woman in an old dress giving her son a bicycle ride during wartime, a woman looking for mussels in modern times, or an old woman selling some fruit.
His sympathy towards and love of women in his paintings brought him true love. A French woman who fell in love with his art bought many of his paintings on credit. Three years later she took him to a villa, which was the payment, and proposed to him. With his wife’s support, his paintings have been displayed in Europe and increased his fan base.
Among modern Vietnamese painters, Luc is the only one who has a fan club collecting his work. More than 100 of its members have some 6,000 of his paintings and regularly hold exhibitions. One, Tony Olive from Australia, who has 100 of Luc’s paintings, opened an exhibition in 2009 and every piece was sold. He felt regret at the scale of the exhibition’s success, however, and negotiated to buy back four of the paintings.

Paintings on Rice Sacks
Paintings on Rice Sacks have become synonymous with the artist Pham Luc in Vietnam. The artist, a former military painter, has experienced many battles in his lifetime. He indicates that the mission of the military painter is honest reflection about the life of people in the battlefield, what he observed and how he felt during the marches. The villages and people who helped him when he got hurt, and the fierce battlefields he passed through are featured in his works.

He painted hundreds of paintings on rice sacks made of jute or synthetic fiber rope from the Soviet Union and China. The idea to use rice sacks came about as he lacked the necessary materials to paint on, and rice sacks were plentiful.

He revealed that the first rice sack paintings were created with the artist Bang Lam in 1965. Pham Luc had to use lubricating oil from cars and trucks to draw because he lacked paints. Every character, image, and depiction in the paintings are associated with his military compatriots. Unfortunately, many paintings were damaged by bombs and ammunition.

War scenes often appear in his paintings, with subjects such as an old mother taking care of wounded soldiers, two teammates piggybacking injured soldiers back to the unit after a battle, a pregnant wife looking up at the image of her sacrificed husband, and militia girls carrying guns. Pham Luc also painted nudes on the sacks, a rather sensitive topic and a taboo in the military.

He had to use his imagination because there were no female models, and the finished pieces were often concealed. In one piece he depicts Vietnamese women soldiers taking a bath in the Truong Son Range after he had accidently come across them. In his paintings, those images bring a pure and romantic setting to the war.

Pham Luc has a distinctive style, one that reflects the culture and history of Vietnam. Many foreign and domestic collectors are proud of owning one or more of his rice sack paintings. In 2013, due to ill health, the artist stopped drawing and exhibiting this type of painting. Because of these changes, the rice sack paintings have become more sought after.

When asked why he had quit painting on rice sacks, the artist explained, “This was my toughest decision, but I’m very happy about my first exhibition without rice sack paintings. In any solo or collective exhibition, the rice sack paintings always make me different. This material reflects the misery of the whole nation at the time, and that has touched many people. But I think nothing is forever nowadays. The artist must also portray life with pen strokes and canvas.”

In a recent interview with writer Nguyen Ngoc about Pham Luc, Thomas J. Vallely, Director of the Harvard Vietnam Program, said his favorite place in Vietnam was not a city or a town but Luc’s concrete studio house. Whenever he visits Luc he talks about art and has learned new things about Vietnam, past and present. He sees Luc’s work as being rich in culture, history and heritage, through varied and diverse themes, with an artistic language on war and the difficulties and sorrows of life, making his creative value not just Vietnamese, but universal.