What is a travel management company?

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

Vietnam Attracts the High-End Traveler

September 12, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

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.

Best Boutique Cruise Line

August 30, 2022 By Blog 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.

The Picasso of Vietnam – Painter Pham Luc

August 23, 2022 By Blog 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.

A masterpiece in the natural wonder

August 21, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

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

DISCOVER VIETNAMESE CULTURE THROUGH PAINTINGS

August 9, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

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.

His style

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.

Karst secrets revealed

August 6, 2022 By Blog Comments Off
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.

How Cruises or Yachts Owners Are Turning Their Boats Into Floating Galleries?

August 6, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

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.

A labyrinth of islands and grottos to explore in the bay of wonders.

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.

  1. Surprising Cave (Hang Sng St) Halong Bays 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Trinh Nu Grotto (Hang Trinh N) 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Luon Cave (Hang Lun) 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.

  1. 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.

Halong BAY, NATURAL WONDER OF Vietnam

Ha long bay attains world heritage status.

On 14 December 1994, at 17.00 hours, at the famous Le Meridien hotel in the southern city Phuket, Thailand, the World Heritage Committee unanimously decided recognize Ha Long Bay as an area of world heritage value.

The fact was warmly welcomed by the Vietnamese people and by all countries as good news. So , from now on, the list of world heritage includes a natural heritage of Vietnam, further enriching the treasure of mankind’s heritage.

HALONG BAY’ LEGEND

Where and when does the name Ha Long originates from? The following related by the local people:

“In the olden day when the Viet people began to discover their country, foreign aggressors came. The Emperor of Jade sent Mother Dragon and a heard of Children Dragons to help the Viet fight the invaders. While enemy vessels, were launching massive attacks against the mainland, dragons descended in flocks from the sky.

They spited out a considerable amount of pearls. These precious stones changed immediately into jade stone islands. Here they were linked together to form a citadel, there they spread out into a battlefield to check the enemy advance and create favorable for the Viet to gain victory.

After the aggressors were driven out, Mother Dragon and Children Dragons did not return to the Heaven’s Court and remained on earth at the place where the battle had occurred. The spot where Mother Dragon landed was Ha Long and Children Dragon came down was Bai Tu Long. The place where their tails wriggled violently was named Long Vi, I .e the present Tra Co peninsula with its beach spreading over dozens of kilometers of smooth sand”

GEOLOGICAL VALUE

Most of Ha Long islands are limestone islands concentrated in Hong Gai bay and schist islands grouped in Cam Pha Bay . Today the land islands like Tuan Chau, Ngoc Vugn, Quan Lan Reu Thua Cong are inhabited by people and animals as a result of transformation of schist islands.

Ha Long terrain comprises islands, mountain alternated with sea depressions which are salted flat expanses of mangroves, and abrupt limestone islands; this is a quite contradictory relief. The terrain is the most ancient of one of the territory of North Vietnam.

Prior to and in the primeval times, was a part of the immense region of mountain ranges alternating with sea depression like the present island area of south east Asia. This terrain was the result of great undulations such as the Caledonian (300 million years ago) Hersinian (250 million years ago) folds. These undulations also shaped sediments of different categories of stones from the lime.

Stone lying deep in the water (in the carbon age) to quartzite along the seashore. In the same period of these undulations, a layer of organic limestone of thousand meters took shapes: it was origin of the limestone ranges of Bac Son, Dong Van, Sa Phin Sa Chay and thousands of stone islands in Ha Long Bay.

Tanks to the motion of into being with 1.600 islands of various forms.
After the Hersinian fold , the terrain of North Vietnam bore a changing and contradictory character, that is to say stone islands alternated with sea depressions.

175 millions years ago, Indosinad orogery much more powerful than two previous folds turned sea depression into the mainland, creating South east Asian land in general and North Vietnam in particular.

However, there were as which had not influenced by the Indosiniade orogery and still maintained its relief unchanged after the Hersinian fold, i.e. Mountain islands alternated with sea depressions in which there were lime clay sediments and salted sediments, ha Long terrain is just one of these areas.

Others sedimentary deposits were buried along with vegetation belonging to fern species and were turned into present northeast coal mine.

So Ha Long terrain comprises bow like islands mountain alternated with profound sea depressions shaped after the Hercinian fold 250 millions years ago. Though since then the earth’s crust has experienced successive undulations, Ha Long terrain has not fundamentally changed.

Its why tourists visiting Ha Long do not only come to see a wonder created by the earth under sky but also a very valuable geological museum kept in the open air for 250 million years, a museum on the primitive face of the territory of Vietnam.

Grottos at different levels on stone islands of Ha Long Bay are not only palaces of Nature but also testify to the seawater encroachment in different ages. At Bo nau and Trinh Nu grottos entrances, one still finds the encroached water level 4-6 meters higher than the present one.

That is the consequence of Ris and Wur glaciers raising the sea water level: It is called the late Pliocene marine transgression, 30.000-40.000 years ago. Then the last glaciers lowered the sea and ocean water, and the sea retreated from the Bac Bo Gulf. The traces of ancient rivers have still remained at the bottom of Ha Long Bay. They are formed in this area.

18.000 years ago, the last glacier raised the ocean water level called the Flandirian marine transgression, drowning the plain of Ha long Bay into the sea. And returning to the relief of mountain islands alternated with sea depressions. After the marine transgression reached the maximum level about 3.000 years ago, the sea gradually retreated and the present table level has been maintained.

So the transformations of the earth’s crust over 250 million years as from the Hercinian orogeny have left traces at different levels on Ha Long Bay, in which the present relief of the Bay mountain islands alternated with profound sea depression is the most ancient remaining terrain of North Vietnam.

BIOLOGICAL VALUE

The distinguishing features of Ha long lie only in its interesting and charming landscape, not only the fact that it preserves vestiges of changes of the earth’s crust, but also in that it has a rich, rare precious fauna and flora. And it may be considered a zoo, a zoological and botanical garden.

As regards Ha Long ‘s fauna , mention should be made of the riches of shrimp and fish species.
According to initial estimates by the Quang Ninh sea Product Services, Ha Long has 1.000 fish species , of which 730 have been identified . Ha Long fish comprise mostly fo those living near the bottoms of the sea and those close to the surface. Ha long has delicious fish species such as stromatcus, mackerel, tunny-fish.

Among fish species such as herring, gizzard-shad, lizard-shad, lizard-fish long -jawed anchovy etc. Usually caught in hauls fish netted in the bay herring gizzard-shad, lizard fish account for 54% of 3.000-4.000 tons. Ziggard- shads live near islands, when laying eggs they emigrate to estuaries. At Quan lan island, people catch 2 tons of gizzard-shads in one haul. Catching time lasts from October to April of next year.

Ha long is an environment appropriate for most tropical fish. Ha long has a relatively mild climate. The temperature does not change much from one season to another: in the cold season, the average is 16-17 degree C . Salt concentration of Ha long bay is quite high compared with other Vietnamese seawaters, from 23-34,5%. The tide amplitude is large, but the bay has no waves and is calm most of the year. The formation of stone island forests in the bay turns Ha long into a gigantic pond, which suits the living conditions of many fish species. On the other hand ephemera pouring from estuaries into the bay constitutes abundant feed for fish. The above favorable conditions helps fish in Ha Long to have a stable life the whole year.

They don’t need to emigrate like fish of other areas.The special features of Ha long also bring a bout particular distribution of fish species here. In other seawaters, large fish, wild fish live offshore, in the deep sea, which is favorable for them to seek shelter and feed. At ha Long , the seashore is sloppy and the bottom is deep. The forest of islands spreads out shape creating dark blue tones on the water surface. The deep bay is covered by shades and has caves, so large fish a wild fish can live near the shore, hidden amongst the shelter of island forests.

Ha long has many squid species calamary, cuttlefish. When boiled they are sweet and nutritious. The squid species having the highest output and nutritional value is cuttlefish.
Fish, shrimp, squid and crab are reputed sea products of Ha Long and other areas of Vietnam . But Ha Long has some special sea areas don’t have.

Pearl oysters are on eof these special sea products. From ancient times, Ha Long sea was reputed as having many pearl oysters. Among Ha long’ special sea products is Sa Sung, less known to tourists but of high economic and nutritional value.

Ha long has 2 corla species: a branch and a fan species. Branch species are slender like tuberose or dense like a bush wood losing its leaves in winter. Fan species re fan – shaped or curved like a lotus petal, a lid or a dish.

Many other sea products exist plentifully in Ha long waters that other sea areas don’t have such as sea-slug, stockiest formerly only available to be presented to kings, area granosa famous on the Indochina market for a time. On fine days, on market day along side Ha long’s shore, we can see fresh shrimp, fish, crab and snail species displayed everywhere for sale in the market and this illustrates the richness and generosity of Nature in Ha Long.

If Ha Long sea has a lively life in the four seasons, with shrimp and fish species, forests of islands are, day and night , bustling with wild beasts and mountain birds.

Ha Long’s islands are abundant in wild beasts such as the white-headed monkey, antelope, iguana, fox, rabbit, flying squirrel, wild boar spotted deer, monkey barking deer, and mouse- bodied bat.
Ha Long has many bird species in its tropical forests: leaf bird, dove, pleasant, picus, halcyon, black-collared starling and little egret. But what is attractive for people who are fond of birds are parrots that can reproduce the human voice. In the mornings when the sun begins to rise up along the edge of island forests, the twitter of parrots lessens the deserted atmosphere of remoter seawaters. Formally the French liked very much Ha Long ‘s red billed and green-tailed parrots and used to sell them to the owners of birth gardens in Paris.

The vegetation cover of Ha Long’ s islands is quite diversified, including primitive and artificial forests, with precious woods, and flower specious.

bai-tu-long-bay1
NATURAL LANDSCAPE

Ha Long is wonderful artistic work of the Nature: It is a sophisticated coordination of sculpture and painting, of strength, grace and picturequeness. Ha Long is not a static piece of art work but incessantly changes in its appearance is also changed when looked at from different angles, creating unusual sceneries, making visitors fell surprised and embraced.

Ha Long is the only sea in area in Vietnam where, on a not very large surface, stand thousands of islands with a variety strange forms. These mountain islands gather together in two large sea groups, one, is the south and southwest of the Bay and the other in the east? Between these two mountain islands groups, is a fan shaped profound sea depression without any island in between wants to give visitors a comprehensive panoramic view of the wonderful landscape.

If the sea areas of mountain islands were viewed form a plane the surface of the bay would look like an emerald green mirror twinkling with multiform blue gems. Islands in Ha Long Bay are not monotonous and dreary but constitutes lively word with the appearance of mysterious living beings. Almost every island has a familiar shape which makes us think of the living world. This form looks like a fisherman, fog’s head. Others have the appearance of a pair fighting cocks , of a toad, a cat a galloping horse on the water surface etc. It seems all of them have inner feeling full of mystery and idyllic dreams.

When sailing in Ha Long Bay with thousands of big and small stone islands of being in a word creatures that were petrified millions of years ago. Look at the foot of Stone Island close to the water surface. Here the sea has perseveringly carved delicate and strange figures with many strata and layers sewing as ornament similar to that on stone columns of temples.

Some islands have their foot eroded so deeply that it appears to bee fragile to support such as heavy mass of the huge island body, which becomes so grotesquely unproportionate.

The wonderful carving of Nature has turned Ha Long islands into real works of sculpture. And natural relief pictures which constitute a unique, lively architectural ensemble in the shape of a pyramid, a parallelepiped or a cone, standing imposingly in middle of the sea depression like a grandiose symbol of the past. Some islands have the form of enormous cubes, black and smooth as if they were made of well planned iron wood; others are curved the shape of an elephant tusk which has been made sharper and more pointed by the wind as it soars further in to the sky. Others are formed by separate stone blocks piled up one upon another into a pyramid or lined into a row of several peaks bay looking of an unfinished work of sculpture or the ruins of a collapsed ancient palace.

To go sailing in Ha long is perhaps the most peasant way of visiting the bay; one could silently slowly admire different corners of the mysterious clusters of islands.

From Bai Chai, the boat will take us rapidly across the Bay of Hong Gai to the southern and southwestern island area. In the distance, the islands appear to be a solid citadel wall separating the high seas from the waters near the coast and making the horizon line. When the boat comes nearer, the citadels wall suddenly breaks up and a multitude of sea lanes open to our eyes winding and passing through the citadel wall. The boat glides on the dark blue water in the shades of steep faced mountain. Sometime when we go sailing, a line of island suddenly stands in front of us baring the lands, we thought that we are driven to an impasse. But when our boat reaches the islands, they seem to make room for us to pass by and open unexpected ways leading us to a forest of others islands which are both familiar and alien.

A great number of tourists are surprised at and feel a passion for the scenery of Ha Long bay now appearing, now disappearing, with so quick changes in a moment
In spring when the vegetation cover around Ha Long begins to produce blooms and buds, the Bay becomes a mysterious world of nature.

Early in spring in Ha Long, island flicker on the vast silvery screen of mist, in which dark blue mountain tops bob now appear, now disappear. The coarse, strong, rugged stone mountain become suddenly soft and flexible as if they were painted with a quill. When the sun rises high in the sky fog in the surface of the bay gradually melt away, only left a thin membrane moving on the islands. The later look like gray haired fairies sitting meditatively on the bluish green surface ion the bay, reflecting in the bottom of the bay , making an impression that stone islands have roots.

Summer in Ha Long is the season of southeast wind. The endless wind blowing from the ocean across ranges of mountain islands brings the mainland the freshness of high seas. In summer, if one stays in Bai Chai tourist resort on will make the most of the very fresh wind blows unceasingly from the sea. Tourist of all corners flock into Ha Long, take a rest in Bai Chay or Tra Co Peninsula to benefit from wind and take a sea bath. After one night of struggle with the high seas, fishing boats make their ways through the southern forest of islands and gather on the wharves. They’re white, brown, red sails fully as a gigantesque bouquet of fragrant flowers of the sea. Sunrise on Ha Long Bay is really a wonderful view. All tourists who come to Ha long for the first time earnestly wish to see with their own eyes this memorable moment in Ha Long.

In summer in Ha Long Bay, the sun shines over the water surface rippled with silvery gentle waves. Stone mountain lines up showing their bare ruffed breast. Here and there, tuffs of orchids grow on cliffs; their yellow, white, violet soft blossoms emit sweet fragrance in the healthy atmosphere of the sea.

In the evening, when stone islands turn from blue to dark violet, there remains only the blazing red coal globe which gradually moves to the west, then disappears behind the row of islands, casting golden glows on the skyline. That is the moment when Bai Chay beach has a bustling life.

Summer in Ha Long is a season of tourism and swimming. On land road and waterway, tourist flock into Ha Long with an earnest desire to admire a natural wonder. Along the one kilometer windy and sunny beach of Bai Chay, tourists in their swimming costume take either sea bath or sunbathe with such animation as a festival. On Ha Long wharves, airy and stand ready to bring tourists to the mysterious word.

In mid summer when the oceanic wind suddenly stops blowing and the hot, a coming shower or a typhoon originating from the Pacific Ocean. In ha long, showers usually drop at noon or a short moment after noon; black clouds suddenly cover the clear blue sky, then come thunder in successive peals and repeated lightning. Strong wind begins to blow. In some violent storm, columns of water rise up suddenly from the surface of the bay fire horse. And Ha long has its typical beauty in a storm.

In a moon of autumn, sitting on Ha Long shore, we will find that Ha long is dashingly beautiful and mysterious. The quite surface of the bay looks likes a mirror reflecting the silvery moonlight gleamy like mercury. At moonrise or at moonset, the islands appear in half lighted, half dark scenery, only the wind blow and sea breaths are heard. Islands, which are so familiar in day time, become alien and mysterious at night.

Ha Long aesthetic value does not only lie in the shape of mountains, colors of the sky but is also hidden in grottoes. The most beautiful cave of Ha long Bay, in my opinion, is Thien Cung grottoes. (Heaven Cave)

In 1994, the guardians of Dau Go grotto explored the surrounding and they discovered a new cave that so far no one has set foot on. This is a Thien Cung grotto, also called Bach Tuyet grottoes. It lies in the same island as the Dau Go grotto, about 150-m away from the later. Its opening is small and looks on the North, on the almost perpendicular wall of the island, about 80-m above water. The opening of Thien Cung is about 25m above that of Dau Go. It was previously unheeded because its opening was small and high and covered by climbing wild plants.

Thien Cung is the largest and highest situated among the caves in Ha Long Bay.To visit the grotto, we must climb the steep slope, crawl under the climbing liana, amidst the good smell of orchids and the singing of birds. Visitors will have the pleasure of mountain climbing and the enthusiasm of being on the way to Heaven.

The Thien Cung has a rectangular section, about 25m wide, 250m long, and 20m high, lying in the North South direction. From its opening looking inside, we have the impression that it is very spacious and abroad. The further we go inside the more surprised and deeply impressed we are by the Wonder of Nature. On the opposite Eastern and Western walls are too giant magnificent bas-reliefs representing men and animals and also strange shapes that we have never imagined…The lines of the sculptures, rough or smooth to touch, the stone cutting is clear and neat, Here are representation of a kneeling elephant, a cuirass horse with brilliant swords and shields. Looking to the ceiling in the east we are amazed by the living fugues of the Heaven Court: The Emperor of Jade, the thunder God, the Nam Tao and the Bac Dau god with their beards and hairs floating like clouds.

There are fine looking fairies with their gorgeous clothes, absorbed in their dancing and singing. Hanged in the middle of the air is the marvelous stick of Monkey King who made disturbances to the Heavenly Court. Now and then, the stick emits light, it 2 meter long a circular section perfectly straight as if some one has leaned it on a stalactite at one end and at the middle of the grotto ceiling and on the eastern weal at the other.

Each wall of the grotto is a wonder; each compartment

of the grotto is a sculptural masterpiece. Under the high and broad vault, the light blues of the stalactites and stalagmites make them look like being silver-plated . Standing among this world of strange shapes, both real and unreal, we believe having been lost in the mysterious and overwhelming Heavenly Place.

Sung Sot grotto lies in the Ho Hon Island the same row of islands with Trinh Nu grotto. To visit this grotto, one should walk under a large parasol of vegetation, on lottery stone stairs. The grotto has two compartments: The outside one of 30m high looks like a perfectly square waiting hall. The smooth vertical partitions are similar large man walls. The skilful hands of Nature have covered the compartment with a modest violet blue paint with here and there some rosy veins.

From the outside to the inside compartment, one has to go through a 3 meters long passage, so narrow that there is barely enough rooms for one person. This inside compartment is a quiet building decorated with lively stones statues. What is brought in relief is at the entrance a group of another as if they were discussing confidential army affaires. Lying at the feet of “army generals” are petrified crocodiles, lion’s cubs and squirrels. Awhile imposing stalagmite and stands in the middle of the floor of the grotto’ if looked at more carefully, it has the shape of an army officer clothed in an overcoat, standing akimbo with face up looking ahead.

The visitor goes form surprise to surprise so this grotto has this name ‘Surprise grotto’.

An-overview-of-Lan-Ha-Bay-and-Cat-Ba-Island
HA LONG CULTURE

Ha Long is not only the concrete image of thousands of large and small islands in limpid and blue seawater. Today, according to archaeological research, Ha Long is till symbol of an ancient culture: Ha Long culture

VAN DON THE MOST ANCIENT FOREIGN TRADE SEA PORT OF VIETNAM

Van Don, now belonging to Van Hai archipelago, lying in the south east of Ha Long Bay, located on Bai Tu longBay, was considered by Nguyen Trai a wonder of country which has very beautifully depicted in his writings.
The complete History of Dai Viet writes “In the Ky Ty year, the 10th year of Ly Anh Tong reign(1149) in spring the second lunar month, Javanese and Siames merchant ships entered the East Sea for trade. They were concentrated in island area, called Van Don, for trading precious goods, and presenting local products”

QUAN LAN: ISLAND OF RUINS HAD PLENTY TO OFFER

These days sleepy Van Don Island may seem like it is being left behind by a rapidly-changing world.
However, the locals will be only too happy to tell you of a time when the island occupied centre stage in the nation’s history.

For this unassuming community on the perimeter of picturesque Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province has a glorious heritage. It was the country’s first international commercial sea port in the 12th century and the site of the first successful naval battle against foreign invasion in the early 13th century.

Now, it is hoped that the island’s dramatic past, coupled with its unspoiled natural beauty, will make the island a place of action again, this time as a prominent eco-tourism destination.
A joint venture has ambitious plans to offer a tour of Van Don’s pristine wilderness, where tourists can stay in stilt houses, swim, scuba-dive, and trek through the forest to see the ruins of the old port.

Food abundant out there
If you ask the islanders whether they have any plans to increase their meagre incomes, they will look somewhat confused. There is plenty of food on the island, they reply – it’s there for the taking in the wild.But apart from the abundant food supply, the island’s residents seem blissfully unaware that they are living on a veritable gold mine. The island is rich in a number of resources that are only just starting to be developed.

The vast stretches of white sand dunes along Van Don’s coastline are one example. The sand is now being used for crystal and glass-making industries.

Just below the sand lies another source of wealth: sea worms. These dried worms fetch up to VND500,000 per kilo on the nearby Chinese market. Hunters require just a shovel and bucket in order to rake in a comfortable living.

With an area of only 60sq.km, space to farm on the island is scarce. Locals have adapted to the conditions as best they can, and the island is now a patchwork of terraced lots slotted in amongst limestone mountains and beaches. Here, residents grow wet rice, vegetables and cash crops such as ground nuts, tea, and sweet potatoes.

However, it is the sea that truly provides the key to the heart and sou