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.
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
Luxury Travel in Vietnam on the Rise and Affordable
Vietnam is emerging as a luxury destination in the world tourism map, Mr. Pham Ha, a travel guru in the tourism industry in Vietnam reveals the current luxury travel trends and his products for 2022. Ha is the founder and CEO of Lux Group which is group of small giants including Lux Limo, Lux Mice, Lux Hotels and Resorts, Adventura Travel, Secret Hideaways, Lux Travel Dmc, Luxury Travel, Emperor and Heritage Cruises.
The Travel Experts of Virtuoso in the U.S. just completed a trend survey of its member agencies, each of whom specializes in catering to the needs of luxury travelers. The survey indicates that Vietnam and Cambodia are the hottest destinations in Southeast Asia.
“With new luxury hotels and world class golf courses having recently opened or set to open soon, and the introduction of luxury train journeys, exclusive cruises and upscale private tours spanning the length of the country, Vietnam is fast emerging as an exciting destination for the high-end traveler.” said Pham Ha.
Today’s luxury travelers want to be entertained and stimulated, rather than simply pampered, and Vietnam offers a magical mix of tropical beaches, post-colonial charm, a string of world heritage sites, stunning inland scenery, world-renowned cuisine and a home-grown flair for hospitality.
“Today, luxury travel is about experiences and doesn’t need to be limited to the super rich. Indeed, it is a little-known fact that almost anybody can afford to travel in style, elegance and comfort without breaking the bank or even spending much more than traveling ordinarily. The world of luxury travel is actually a very accessible one.” reveals Pham Ha.
Upscale tours today also offer “off the beaten track” experiences. In a credit crunch environment, high end tourists also expect efficiency, seamless travel, value for the money and a return on personal values. Many will opt for short trips for their families which offer a slice of local culture, a splash of adventure, and authentic experiences.
Upscale tailor-made tours in Vietnam now come replete with yacht, cruises, helicopter tours, limousine services, and the whole nine yards.
There is also plenty of flexibility for all tours. Travelers are free to request helicopter tours, cycling excursions to craft villages, scuba diving or snorkeling trips, reservations at the finest restaurants in the land, meetings with renowned artists, chefs and designers, shopping recommendations, spa reservations, tours with special-interest lecturers, and exclusive access to local activities and cultural events.
Each day, tours are designed with flexibility to suit travelers’ personal interests, schedule and energy level. When it comes to luxury tours, the sky’s truly the limit. Lux Travel DMC (www.luxtraveldmc.com) has just won a World Travel Awards 2022 as a Vietnam’s leading luxury destination management company confirming this trend and position of Vietnam luxury tourism in the world tourism map.
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.
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.
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.
A touch of heritage in the sanctuary of the senses
By Waseem Ahmed
Vietnam’s first boutique cruise brings heritage alive, only 90 minutes away from Hanoi. Heritage Cruises showcases the country’s art, history, culture and gastronomy in the Halong Bay region.
The cultural and artistic heritage, as well as the spirit of patriotism of the entrepreneur, Bach Thai Buoi, were the inspirations for the owner of Heritage Cruises as he planned thematic experiences that will awaken the senses of guests traveling deep into the heart of Halong Bay.
With its haute cuisine complemented by superior service, Heritage Cruises will shape the design of brand-new cruise ships and lead new boutique trends in Vietnam. Cruising is all about you and travel is about the destination, the experiences, and the memories.
For luxury travelers, the criteria for a holiday have become immutable by default: an attractive space with views over the mountains or sea, a variety of dining venues, tantalizing menus, attentive service from the heart, and outstanding facilities for discovering, exploring, immersing and relaxing on board.
With Heritage Cruises, you will be impressed by the stylish, luxurious architecture and attention to detail, where there is a work of art around every corner and everything is extremely tasteful. Our owner collected a rich collection of postcards, stamps, antiquities, ceramics, pottery, artworks, and folk paintings bringing Vietnamese culture to life.
One of the biggest, most adventurous, and most pioneering innovations in Vietnam is Lux Cruises, because of our million-dollar art collection on board. Many people think that sun, heat, wind, natural light, humidity, and sea salt can damage the paintings, but in fact the opposite is the case since the humidity is always 50% on the yacht, and the average temperature is around 72 degrees F or 22 degrees C, the ideal temperature of museums when they want to preserve their paintings well.
Loving beauty is enjoyable, but creating beauty is art. Paintings beautify and brighten up the décor space on the cruise ship. When hanging the paintings, we must be sure to avoid shaking them, but they must be easy to remove in case of fire. Special care must be taken in case of stains, with periodical maintenance by experts, and the most precious paintings are covered. The paintings are not only beautiful, but even more, the paintings of painter Pham Luc tell the story of war and peace, traditional culture, heritage, and the development of Vietnamese society through each period, which is where their true value lies. This is a unique privilege that only passengers of Heritage Binh Chuan can enjoy. 1 new message (heritagecruises.com)
Our owner collected the fine art because of his passion for painting. Pham Ha has spent 25 years collecting paintings with his love of heritage and telling the story of Vietnam’s intangible spirit through art. The story of Vietnamese art is also the history of modern Vietnam. “He is like the person chosen to succeed the king of ships, Bach Thai Buoi.”, writes the Dream Cruise Story of the Five Continents, “He pursues his passion for cruises and yachts, and builds them to display his paintings for travelers to enjoy.” After all, only the most memorable stories, the paintings, are the most valuable asset on a cruise ships.
The combination of a unique boutique heritage cruise in this most special of natural wonders, Halong Bay, will resonate with our discerning guests who will savor the cultural surprises in a program where everything blends perfectly, the senses are awakened, and the scenery is emotionally uplifting. The fine cuisine in Le Tonkin and L’Indochine restaurants will enhance the experience of cruising through this paradise on earth, and travelers will love every moment, ensuring once-in-a-lifetime memories.
Outstanding facilities, a year-round swimming pool, welcoming bars, a top-notch spa, the opportunity to buy art by the Picasso of Vietnam, distinctive architectural style, haute cuisine and excellent service, this boutique cruise ship awaits the elite to discover, dream, explore, indulge, relax, experience and immerse in cultural and natural heritage.
Being a heritage-inspired designer cruise ship, but still with a boutique concept, Heritage Cruises care about the guest experience, offering them an upscale lifestyle with an artistic twist, together with concierge services.
Like boutique hotels, boutique cruises are characterized by their intimate atmosphere and idiosyncratic style. They distinguish themselves from larger chain cruises by offering personalized attention and stylish, themed accommodation and a story to tell. We want to create memorable moments that focus on the local culture and arts encountered on the way. Our boutique cruise categorizes its ships not with stars but by “character, quality, style and the overall unique experience of staying there”.
As Heritage Cruises’s first boutique cruise, which is positioned as a zero-star rating for the whole experience, we want to raise the bar for the art of cruising in the Halong Bay region. We ensure we give our clients the “ultimate in luxury and sophistication” and “out of the ordinary onboard facilities”. Your feedback and social media reviews are important to us and may even affect the official star rating of our property.” www.heritagecruises.com
Exhibiting both French and Vietnamese influences in his work, Pham Luc is a bridge linking the 20th and 21st centuries. To appreciate this accomplished and yet humble master is to understand a part of Vietnamese culture, history, heritage, progress and life.
Some of his older paintings sold for over $400,000 and many have admired his works including a Harvard professor, many ambassadors in Hanoi, high-ranking Vietnamese officials and art collectors from around the world. He has a collectors’ club with over a hundred passionate members in Hanoi.
Soldier and Painter
Pham Luc was born in Hue, Vietnam in 1943 and raised in Hanoi. He was one of the official painters in the Vietnamese army and was awarded prizes in art from the Ministry of Defense in 1990. He still lives in Hanoi and is one of the major painters in this country. His works have been exhibited in France, Germany, USA, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Russia and feature in the collections of Vietnam’s Fine Arts Museum and many international art collectors.
Pham Luc’s style is instantly recognizable but hard to imitate. “I do not paint in abstract. I paint the vibrations of my heart, the life of the people around me… I find serenity in working. My paintings are confessions.”
It is in these terms that the painter describes his style which is full of French influences. In his art Pham Luc exalts the simplicity of rural beauty through the sweetness of women, children or nature.
Pham Luc is influenced by four of the most famous and successful painters in Vietnam since 1945 – Nghiem, Liem, Sang and Phai who all graduated from L’Ecole des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine. These four artists diverged on totally different paths. Nghiem in a world of convention, Liem softness and femininity, Sang was strength, and Phai realism.
His life as a painter “Painting is my joy in life.”
Pham Luc tirelessly paints nearly a thousand paintings every year. What characterizes him is his ability to adapt to the element he is using. He has created works of art on all possible media: newsprint, craft paper, rice sacks. He also mastered the traditional techniques such as oil, gouache, ink, pastel, and lithography as well as lacquer, deemed the most difficult technique, and inaccessible to many. He is one of the acknowledged masters in this medium.
Pham Luc and war
Pham Luc spent 35 years in the army and was one of the official army painters. Much of his art was produced in haste during the war, on sacks of rice, and bore witness to the horror of the fighting that surrounded him. Art silenced the horror and introduced the essence of hope.
One particular technique: Lacquer
Initiated in China three thousand years ago, the technique of lacquer then spread throughout Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, where lacquer is recognized as a popular art and craft, the process, a long kept national secret, was allowed to be shown to foreign students around 1970 by the Hanoi Fine Arts College. What characterizes it is the application of several layers of color dried in a hot and humid atmosphere. Thanks to grinding techniques, different shapes and colors can be brought out.
Work in ink
Pham Luc’s ink works, painted on locally available materials such as silk, rice sacks, newsprint, and rice paper, are of inestimable historical value. Made between 1965 and 1975, a series of drawings in ink on rice paper represent the soldiers, Vietnamese peasants, and women during the war, mostly passive witnesses of a conflict for unity and independence.
Oils and other techniques
Pham Luc mastered many traditional techniques: from lacquer (he is an undisputed master in Vietnam), water color, oil, woodcarving, and gouache to acrylic. A book that compares him with Picasso is dedicated to him.
A masterpiece in the natural wonder
Built with passion, Heritage Cruises is proudly affiliated with the master Pham Luc as travel, cruising, food, wine, hospitality, music and art represent our rich Vietnamese history, culture, nature, heritage and cuisine which all create memories for the most sophisticated travelers. Discover our masterpiece and 100 artworks on board and create your own memories.
Cruising in the biggest karst museum in the world!
The Gulf of Tonkin includes some thousands of islands and islets which form a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and relatively unaffected by human influence.
“Karst” is a characteristic weathering phenomenon of limestone mountains eroded by water. The erosion is not caused by mechanical forces, but mainly by carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air dissolving into water, plus positive ions of hydrogen (H+) forming carbonic acid (H2CO3). This is the main culprit of limestone erosion. The natural products of karst weathering are caves with stalactites, stalagmites, and underground rivers and streams.
The geomorphology of the Halong Bay region, including Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay, and Halong Bay itself, is known as “‘drowned karst’ due to the unusual combination of its limestone karst features which have been subject to the repeated rise and fall of the sea over millions of years”. The limestone formations of Halong Bay have been eroded into a mature landscape of fengcong (clusters of conical peaks) and fenglin (isolated tower features, modified later by the invasion of the sea.
The smaller islands consist of fenglin towers that are 50m to 100m high. Many have vertical walls on all or most sides and these continue to evolve because of rock falls. The sea’s invasion of The Gulf of Tonkin has added an extra element to the normal process of lateral undercutting of the limestone towers and islands.
The most conspicuous feature of this erosion is the large notch cut into the entire rocky coastline, which can be seen from the air. Notches are a feature of limestone cliffs worldwide, but those of the Ha Long region are exceptionally well developed and, at many sites, extend into arches and caves. This process of undercutting and subsequent erosion maintains the steep faces of the fenglin karst towers and thereby perpetuates the spectacular nature of the landscape.
Extensive limestone caves represent another important feature of the Ha Long Region, with three main types identified: old phreatic caves formed below the water table of the time; old karstic foot caves formed by lateral undercutting of cliffs at base level; and marine notch caves formed at sea level where rock structures are powerfully eroded and eventually reduced to a wave-cut platform. You can cruise above the biggest karst garden in the world and discover some dry grottos and eroded caves such as Luon, Ba Ham or Dark and Bright Caves.
From fine-art insurance policies to crew trainings, collectors are finding new ways to protect their appreciating assets while afloat.
Sun, sea spray and salty air create the perfect environment for sailing enthusiasts but not so much for priceless works of art.
Still, that’s not stopping serious collectors from bringing Pham Ha aboard his yachts.
Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago is the Vietnam’s first cruise brings heritage alive and 100 artworks of Pham Luc arts to display in the Bach Thai Buoi king of ships’s memory space.
According to one art adviser who specializes in safeguarding art at sea, the works might even be better off on the water than on land in certain cases.
Some museums would kill for the climatic conditions you can create onboard a superyacht.
A yacht’s advanced air-con system can easily maintain the recommended 50 percent humidity and temperature of 18 to 22 degrees C for fine art.
Many superyachts also have state-of-the-art security systems to protect not only passengers but also their possessions.
But creating a hospitable environment takes work. It’s not a good idea to put art near open doors or close to the water, so some owners plan their yachts’ interiors around their collections.
And because natural and artificial light can damage masterworks, it’s suggested that a conservator conducts a lux-hour survey (which measures a room’s light exposure) prior to installing any pieces—even in rooms shielded by UV-protected glass.
Having a fine-art insurance policy that covers works installed on a yacht is imperative. So is keeping the correct paperwork (or certified copies) onboard to avoid complications with customs.
Art adviser notes that art should be installed to mitigate movement on rough waters, using fixtures that allow the work to be removed swiftly in the event of flood or fire.
The safest route of all, though, is to swap out the genuine article. Many collectors will own the original artwork but have a copy created to put on their boat.
As quickly as owners fill their yachts with coveted art, experts are rushing to teach captains and crew how to care for it.
The art is not safe when you have staff ignorance. But the cuts in the canvases create crevices that require professional treatment.
“If something gets splashed on it, they’re probably just going to try to wash it off” Pham Ha recommends the captain have direct access to an art conservator who can quickly repair the damage or any other delicate piece.
Collectors’ biggest takeaway should be that if they’re going to cruise, their crew had better be adept at more than maintaining engines and mixing drinks.
You really have to have a care manual for all of your objects, and it all has to be incorporated into the standard operating procedures.
After all, the art is the only appreciating asset onboard.
Among the 1,969 sunken limestone towers submerged in the emerald waters of Halong Bay are a series of ancient caves and grottoes – many of which remain unexplored. To date, there are 59 caves listed on the official registry (this includes the most recent discovery of 23 ‘new’ caves), all of which have special belonging in Halong Bay’s distinctive ecosystem.
Undoubtedly, the most famous of them all is Sung Sot Cave, which has rightfully earned its near-legendary status among visitors to the world-famous bay. We’ll reveal 7 famous and magnificent Halong Bay caves, lagoons, and grottoes that are worth exploring at least once in Vietnam, some of which are on our Lux Cruises itineraries.
Surprising Cave (Hang Sửng Sốt) Halong Bay’s Largest Cave
Discovered by French explorers in 1901, located in Bo Hon Island, Sung Sot cave is the largest and one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay. It is where you can find many rocky islands concentrated in different strange and distinct shapes.
The first thing you may think when setting foot in the cave is that it is just a very small area. However, you will be surprised after passing through the rocky slot and going inside. The area is huge, stretching about 10.0000 square meters. You will be surprised by its majestic beauty and the huge expansion. Maybe that’s the reason why it is called “Sung Sot Cave” or “Surprising Cave”.
The cave is divided into 2 main areas. The first one gives you an impression of entering an immense theatre whose ceiling is covered by stalactites and stalagmites. The second one is a different space. Its ceiling is covered by many stalactites and stalagmites, which looks like a silky “velvet carpet” with a myriad of glistering chandeliers.
Thien Cung Cave – the Gorgeous Gift of Nature to Halong Bay
Located just 4 km from the harbor, Thien Cung is the most interesting and legend-filled cave. It is considered as a unique winding pathway through the “Heavenly Palace”.
About 27 meters above sea level, visitors must climb 90 rocky steps to the mouth of the cave. The grotto is well-known for its complex interior structure, high ceilings, and multi doors. There are three large chambers in the cave, each containing imposing displays of active stalactites and stalagmites. They have various sizes and strange shapes such as fish, birds, and celestial maidens.
Thien Cung cave is also famous for its legend about an ancient Dragon King. He defeated invaders and returned to his cave instead of gaining veneration. The Dragon Prince married a girl named May. Their wedding was held in the cave attended by many dragons, giant eagles, and huge pythons. Going around the cave, you can see this scene engraved on the wall in stone. Let your imagination fly.
Trinh Nu Grotto (Hang Trinh Nữ) – the Symbol of Love
Trinh Nu grotto is situated on the island range of Bo Hon and just about 15 km from Bai Chay Beach. While it is home to some fishermen, it is considered the symbol of true love and a romantic place for walking the path of love for young couples.
Legend has it that there was once a beautiful fisherman’s daughter. Her family was so poor that it was in service of the fishing zone’s rich administrator. The administrator forced the family to give him the girl as a concubine. However, the daughter refused as she already had a lover. Angered by her refusal, he exiled her to a wild island where she had to suffer from hunger and exhaustion waiting for her lover in vain till death and then turning to stone. Nowadays, when visiting the cave, you still can see the statue of a lying girl with long hair, and eyes looking towards the mainland.
Trinh Nu Grotto consists of three chambers: one is like a house with a flat roof, another is 8 meters long and 5 meters wide, and the third is linked by a narrow window. Inside the grotto, there are many stalagmites and stalactites in many different forms creating beautifully carved pictures on the walls.
Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stakes Cave) – the Cave of Wonders
Dau Go Cave (Hang Đầu Gỗ) is one of the most famous caves in Halong Bay due to its volume and sheer size. The French tourists who first explored the cave called it “Grotte des Merveilles” which means “Cave of Wonders”. And the cave is such a beauty that you’ll have to go and see it for yourself.
There are many explanations for the name of the cave. The most popular theory is that a long time ago, some fishermen gathered in front of Dau Go Cave to repair their boats. After that, there were many blocks of wood left. The name Dau Go (Wooden Stakes), hence, was formed from this incident. Legend says that they’re wooden stakes from the battle on Bach Dang River.
Dau Go Cave brings tourists feelings of the ancient, pristine, and extremely quiet beauty thanks to many stone pillars and stalagmites. It is also more unique than other caves with its rich flora and fauna system. Its structure is divided into 3 chambers. The first one has many stalactites of all colors with images of lions, turtles, and pythons,… Coming to the second one, you will see the image of rocky islands. And the last one has the image of giant stone pillars.
Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave) – the Maze of Wild Beauty
Me Cung Cave (Hang Mê Cung) is one of the most attractive sites in Halong Bay due to its outstanding historical, cultural, and natural value.
The cave looks like a vivid “museum” storing many archaeological artifacts. For those who are keen on history, you may know the information about the pre-Halong culture around 7000 to 10000 years ago. When exploring the cave, you will have a chance to see and even touch fossilized freshwater animal bones that remain on the walls of the cave. Also, you will have a chance to understand more about the homes and living methods of the prehistoric people.
Stepping onto the tropical islands with lush green forests, you can explore the cave inside the mountain and you must pass over the stone steps. The highlight of Me Cung Cave is the big stone columns formed by the development of stalactites and stalagmites over the course of thousands of years. In the cave, there is also a system of spiral sparkling stones which make you feel like you’re entering the palace of an ancient king.
Luon Cave (Hang Luồn) – the Paradise of Magnificent Nature Landscapes
Located 14 km to the south of Tuan Chau beach and only 1 km from Sung Sot Cave, Luon Cave is a good destination for Halong Bay’s wandering tour, where you kayak through the eroded limestone cave.
In front of the cave, you can find Turtle Island and the Heavenly Gates where you get a chance to admire steep seas and clear water. Crossing Turtle Island, the blue waters become calmer and more peaceful. It’s where Luon Cave is. It looks like a circular iron bow with a blue lake in the middle. The lake is encompassed by craggy cliffs, charming orchids in bloom, the shade of ancient trees, and luxuriant vegetation. Under the calm blue water is the colorful life of different marine species like shrimp, crabs, and squid,…
Luon Cave attracts travelers mostly thanks to its wonderful and astonishing stalactites. When setting foot here, you may feel lost in the paradise of sparkling and eye-catching stalactites. However, the cruise ships are not allowed to enter the cave, but only anchor close to the gate. So, you can discover the cave on a bamboo boat or kayak. In your journey of researching Luon Cave, the most appealing impression to tourists would be natural scenery and quietness. It’s a wonderful combination of water, colors, plants, contours, and paradise on earth.
Tien Ong Cave – a New Cave to Be Included in Your Itinerary
Tien Ong Cave (so-called Grotte du Vieux by the French) covers an area of almost 1000 square meters. A tall rustic stone pillar divides the cave into 2 chambers. It boasts a system of thousand-year-old stalactites and stalagmites and a cradle of ancient Vietnamese people.
Though most Halong Bay caves have a narrow entrance and a large interior, this cave is totally different. It is exceptional with a big entrance (50m wide, 14m high) leading to a massive area inside (about 1000 square meters). Going inside, you can admire a block of stalactites, which looks like an old man with a gentle face, long hair, and beard. The local people call him a miraculous “fairy godfather”.
Apart from the purely natural beauty, the cave also has the remnants of prehistoric life such as mountain snails, freshwater snails, or rough stone and bone tools. Many archaeologists explain that ancient residents chose the cave as a shelter because it faces to the southeastern direction and helps them to avoid cold wind. So, the cave is a good destination to both enjoy your time and learn about history, culture, and geological tectonics.