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.
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”
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.
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.
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’.
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
(Hanoi, June 14, 2022) For the first time, the historic cruise ship Heritage Binh Chuan received the most prestigious award, TripAdvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice Awards “Best of The Best”.
On the largest website in the world, Trip Advisor has just announced that Heritage Binh Chuan cruise (www.heritagecruises.com ) has received the prestigious TripAdvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice award, based on thousands of comments and reviews of travelers and guests from all over the world. Heritage Cruises is one of the top cruise ships in Vietnam to receive this prestigious award.
Travelers’ Choice Awards https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g293924-d15122257-Reviews-Heritage_Cruises-Hanoi.html is TripAdvisor’s highest award. Based on millions of comments and opinions from travelers worldwide about hotels, destinations, landmarks, brands, and products, this annual award honors the “best of the best” on the criteria of service, quality, and customer satisfaction.
“Each year, we aggregate all the reviews, ratings, and archives shared by travelers globally — and use that information to find out the best locations. All will be honored by Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best.” “Tripadvisor awards Travelers’ Choice awards to accommodations, attractions, and restaurants that consistently receive great reviews from travelers and are ranked in the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.”
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.
About the award, TripAdvisor wrote: “This year, TripAdvsior made the most of every trip—big or small. We have become neighborhood explorers, masters of the outdoors, and adventurers who have gone where no one has been and done things no one has ever done. Through all the reviews, recommendations, and stories, we’ve helped each other around the world. It is you who decide where to award the Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best: the flesh-and-blood travelers who have come, tried, and shared your experiences. These are the best places in the world according to the wonderful community of travelers everywhere.”
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.
“We have been operating continuously for 2 years and serving 12000 passengers per year, and because of Covid 19, one of the most popular and favorite cruises in the Gulf of Tonkin has created the trend of “Vietnamese people going on a cruise vacation”. The entire team and I, personally, are very proud of the 100-year heritage brand Heritage Binh Chuan. We are honored to receive the TripAdvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice award after 3 years of operating on Lan Ha Bay, a port city in Hai Phong. We thank the travelers who have traveled with us and contributed to their choice of the best yacht in 2022.” Founder and CEO Pham Ha said:
“We are proud to be the pioneer in heritage tourism and experience in the luxury cruise business, combining adventure in Vietnam’s most beautiful bays such as Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Islands on an ocean liner. The 4-day and 3-night tour allows visitors to explore, dream, discover, relax, experience, and immerse themselves in the natural heritage of this bay. We are proud of our passionate, enthusiastic team that always focuses on customer satisfaction and claims the right of 100% customer satisfaction. It’s great that for the first time we have received this prestigious award as voted for by our own customers on the world’s largest social network, TripAdvisor. We are more confident 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.”
Cruising is all about places, experiences, and memories. After 3 years of operation, Heritage Cruises has continuously received many prestigious awards in Vietnam and the world such as The Guide Awards, Booking.com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s best cruise ship, TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2020 and most recently, the best small charter yacht in Vietnam awarded by the US Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2021, and Travel and Leisure presents this boutique cruise as a masterpiece of natural wonder for families to visit and experience exploring the most beautiful bay in the world in Vietnam. www.heritagecruises.com
No country can truly be grasped in a single trip, whether it be a foodie weekend, a two-week family vacation, a six-month backpack, or even a multi-year immersion as an expat. Personally, I’ve lived in Vietnam almost 6 years, I’m married to a Vietnamese woman, and I speak enough Vietnamese to get to know people (assuming they can handle my heavy accent), but I still find it requires a lot of effort to dig deep into the culture and history to get a feel for the place. Most trips to the countryside give me the tiniest scratch of the surface into the joys and struggles of the people there and even visiting every significant place of interest in a new city only raises more questions and leaves me wanting more to feel satisfied with my experience. Recently, however, I’ve come the closest I’ve ever been to having an all-encompassing experience of Vietnam and it all took place in 24 hours.
Ok, I know this article is called Vietnam in a day, but really my experience was over the course of 24 hours, and after all there are 24 hours in a day so I’m sticking with it. At noon I boarded the ship named Heritage Binh Chuan (not having a clue how changed my life would be just 24 hours later) and by noon the next day I was back at my port of entry. This particular cruise of Ha Long bay was to celebrate my first anniversary with my wife (I’ll accept your congrats in the comments, thank you, thank you) so we decided to splurge on a luxury cruise, something neither of us have ever considered before this occasion.
The cruise started as any good luxury cruise should, with a welcome from the manager and captain, but before we were even escorted to the dining room for the first complimentary drink and lunch there was one jaw-dropping detail that stood out to us. The first detail which surrounds you is the Indochine interior design. Every inch of the boat has been carefully crafted to transport you back to the time of Bach Thai Buoi, the shipping entrepreneur who revolutionized the Vietnamese shipping industry by leading the movement to have ships designed and built solely by Vietnamese hands. As a history nerd I indulged in the pamphlets scattered about the ship that told of his fight against colonialism and gave greater context to the interior design of the ship. Even someone not as enthralled with history as I am, though, cannot help but be immediately thrust into the French colonial period as the ship is essentially a living history museum with the stylized, wooden decor and early photographs from around Northern Vietnam.
The food served at the lunch buffet was excellent, but paired with the exemplary service from the staff it made the first dining experience on the ship top notch, a standard which the crew upheld the entire cruise. Anyone should expect the food on a luxury cruise to be good so I won’t go into detail about that, but one special touch unlike anywhere I’ve stayed before is the dinner “dress code”. Every room on the ship has an áo dài, the traditional clothing of Vietnam, for each guest in that room and the majority of guests wore theirs to dinner. This is a gesture that says, “You’re not simply WITH Vietnamese for dinner, you ARE Vietnamese, even if just for tonight.” It gives you more than just a taste of Vietnam.
Another set of clothes in every room is the martial arts clothes so you can feel comfortable joining the sunrise Vovinam class, very much like Tai Chi. This class is on the sundeck of the ship, a place that offers far more than this class and even more than any human culture could. The sundeck offers a 360 degree view to millions of years of geology. All throughout Vietnam there is a similar type of geological feature, called karsts, formed from the limestone spread across half of the country. You can see these sharp, jagged peaks that Vietnam is famous for in every province in the north and you drive past miles of them taking any highway through the countryside. The biggest difference is that all these landlocked karsts are visible only from the road, which is the bottom of any karst valley. The sundeck of Heritage Binh Chuan places you many feet above sea level and with this elevated view you begin to get a scope for how widespread this feature is and how influential it has been on the shaping of Vietnamese culture. Luckily the sundeck is not the only place on the ship with magnificent views as every exterior wall in every room, bathroom, library, and gallery is framed with massive windows peering into the bay. The ship, though wonderful, can be described in words, but for the bay I must quote cinema and say, “No one can be told what Ha Long Bay is, you have to see it for yourself.”
Every single outside wall of the ship is a window looking out to the bay, but those aren’t the only carefully considered walls on the vessel. Every inside wall is decked either in early photographs as mentioned before, or something even more stunning, paintings of daily life from around Vietnam. One moment you can be in the Mekong delta and with a few steps across the ship you’re in the living room of a wealthy Hanoian family. You can see scenes of war juxtaposed with traditional musicians. All, or at least most from what I can tell, of the paintings are by the same artist, so the style is consistent throughout the ship. Clearly painted by the hand of a master, they are not realistic, but heavily stylized to put the viewer into a dreamlike state. They are ethereal, yet almost tangible, like the lives of those we’ll never know whose experiences echo into our own. They are windows also, but unlike the outer windows of the ship which look onto the landscape that shaped the culture of Vietnam, they are windows that peer into the Vietnamese soul.
At once, the cruise was modern yet steeped in history, it was artificial ringed with the natural, and it was exciting but tinged with the somber. It was humanity at its finest in the ways that any culture can reach its zenith, however it was characteristic of the Vietnamese in only the ways that they can be Vietnamese. When it came to an end I must admit I was sad, but I did not feel like I had missed or overlooked anything, in fact my wife and I couldn’t talk about much else for the next few days because even then we were still digesting the experience.
Through the sadness of it having ended, I felt incredibly lucky that I live in a time and place where something like that is possible. I feel fortunate that the small price of a ticket could stamp my memory with more than just a trip or a taste of luxury, but it could allow me to know a place, and even more importantly, allow me to know a people.
Joseph A. Lewis
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.
Small is beautiful and chic
A burgeoning niche industry revolves around small vessels – a wide-ranging group that includes yachts, rugged expedition ships, riverboats and classic sailing schooners – where passenger counts top out at closer to 200, rather than 2,000 or more.
Beyond offering a cozier atmosphere, the small size of these ships creates a completely different experience, both onshore and on board. Smaller ships allow easy access to remote, less-visited ports that the larger vessels just can’t get to, leading to refreshingly unique itineraries.
Unique, Experiential and Personal
Boutique cruises like Heritage Cruises make it their business to get their guests to secluded locations, where they can enjoy activities like biking, walking, boating, kayaking or snorkeling.
On board, the crowd-free experience is predictably more intimate and sociable. You can expect more personalized service from the crew and are much more likely to get to know your fellow passengers, as you regularly see the same faces on deck and in the lounges, a bonus if you like to make new friends while traveling.
Expect destination-driven itineraries that are enhanced by creative programs and hosted excursions, often led by historians, naturalists and other knowledgeable pros such as photographers, an Iron Chef, naturalists, art guides, and wellness experts…
Top Ten Characteristics
Today’s travelers’ never-ending search for something “new and different” inspired the evolution of boutique hotels and cruises. But what exactly is a boutique cruise?
While there is no strict definition of a boutique cruise, the genre does tend to have some common features. Here are top ten characteristics of boutique cruises such as Heritage Cruises: Size, Individuality, Design, Character, Culture, Service, Gastronomy, Clientele, Sense of a place, Authenticity.
Size – Boutique cruises are typically small, with 10 to 100 cabins. They are intimate in scale, creating the ambiance of being a personal guest in a private floating home away from home, rather than just a cruise passenger. They often have communal “social spaces” where guests can interact.
Individuality –They are often operated independently and are not affiliated with a major cruise chain. The ships have a distinctive vibe and never have the “cookie cutter” feel of being one in a series. Their experiences are personal, authentic and unique. The staff remember your name and make your journey a truly memorable one.
Design – The architecture and interior design of a boutique cruise is as unique and special as its operations, always high end and often combining historic detail with chic elegance. The lines may be sleek and contemporary or quaint and homey – or even an artistic amalgamation. The guest cabins have private balconies, panoramic windows and are individually styled using upscale fabrics and with exclusive amenities.
Character – Boutique cruises usually have a quirky personality. They are fun and funky, trendy and offbeat. Their sense of humor might be exhibited through the design and creative guest offerings. Each day is an adventure.
Culture – As an extension of the unique personality of each ship, boutique cruises often celebrate local flavor by incorporating locally-sourced materials and reflecting the location’s heritage through color and art. Themed boutique cruises build the entire guest experience around a particular subject, such as fine art, fashion or sport.
Service – Highly personalized service is a hallmark of boutique cruises. The cruise director will welcome you in person and the staff will know your name on the first day of your stay. Bespoke luxury amenities are provided, such as an extensive pillow menu and luxury toiletries, as well as offering sumptuous spa services.
Gastronomy – Boutique cruises craft unique dining experiences, not just menus. Their restaurants and bars tend to be smart and trendy, serving locally-sourced, high-quality cuisine, making these dining and drinking spots popular with locals as well as guests.
Clientele – The types of travelers who are attracted to boutique cruises are as individual as the cruises themselves and tend to be just as sophisticated. Guests from Millennials to Baby Boomers who enjoy creative design, quirky character, and personal service will be right at home on a boutique cruise.
Sense of a place – Operating in the historic Gulf of Tonkin, capturing the quintessence of north Vietnam, combining it with the nostalgia of 1930s Indochina and the heritage ships of Bach Thai Buoi, Heritage Cruises has been designed for a journey of discovery, a sanctuary where travelers can feel a sense of place and create their own memories.
Authenticity – A devotion to simplicity, heritage, boutique and product authenticity. Cruising is all about destinations, experiences and memories. Our ambition is lofty: to provide a spectacular experience based on elements of exclusivity, comfort, elegance and style. As well as a passionate team, we have incredible partners who will help ensure your Heritage Cruises experience is rich in memories.
Heritage Cruises categorizes its ships not only using stars but also by character, quality, style and the overall special experience, which together ensure that our cruises have a story to tell.
Originating from China, Feng Shui has a 3000-year history and Vietnam, like many other Asian countries, continues to practice it in daily life, in its architecture and interior design. Our heritage-inspired cruise ship, Heritage Cruises, has been created with the balance of ying and yang in mind, with the five elements of Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth on board harmonizing with the surrounding environment.
Feng Shui affects our health, relationships, quality of life and, of course, experiences when we travel. Cruising is all about you and your experiences. We have designed our cruise and accommodation with the best practices of Feng Shui in mind for your greater comfort, restorative sleep and a memorable experience while you are staying with us.
All our suites are designed using Feng Shui principles including the lighting, neutral colors, no TV, and the bed facing the ocean, respecting the free flow of Chi in the suite. You can see the ocean from every corner of your suite and we create a warm and pleasant ambiance for you to create your own memories. We even have a tree in each suite, there to bring good fortune.
Here are the top ten elements we include in the suites to conform with Feng Shui rules and to heighten your senses.
1. Design with a purpose
Our suites have been thoughtfully designed for our guests with safety, authenticity, sincerity, protection and great comfort in mind. All 20 suites are located on the main and upper decks, far from engine noise, public and social areas and with easy access to all the exit areas both in the rear and at the front of the ship. The main stairs are at the heart of the ship benefiting from both natural light and fresh air.
2. Neutral colors and warm space
We use Indochine style heritage-inspired designs in neutral colors, using natural materials which create a warm, elegant, pleasant ambiance for our high-end guests. We ensure we give our clients the ultimate in luxury and sophistication with our extraordinary on-board facilities.
3. Feng Shui bed position
There is space above and around the bed to balance the Dragon and the Tiger (the white tiger represents female energy). With a classic colonial-style bed and wooden headboard, the bed is placed to avoid straight lines and positioned to fully enjoy the floor-to-ceiling windows and bring you energy.
4. The free flow of vitality.
Clutter in a bedroom hinders the free flow of Chi and the flow of air and vitality. Our suites are decorated minimally so that objects do not disturb the vitality, but are very neat, simple, and elegant, in a distinctive boutique style.
5. Tree in the suite – the wood element
The suite has a small tree which is the wood element of Feng Shui, together with an Indochine colonial-style bed with wooden headboard, lamp table, sofa, and smart luggage rack.
6. Slow pace of life
Each suite is designed with absolute privacy in mind, giving you the space to appreciate life and enjoy the wonderful views. There is no TV in the suite, so you can truly escape surrounded by the natural wonders of the bay. Indeed, you will be able to capture every romantic moment as every second counts while you are on board.
7. Connecting with nature
We use sustainable materials and neutral colors to enhance your mood and create the perfect ambiance for you and your companion, so that you can connect with nature as well as appreciate the culture, arts, people, food and heritage.
8. The language of art
You can enjoy wonderful works of art with different themes on the Red River Delta, the ocean and heritage by one of the most famous artists in the country, Pham Luc. You will also learn about the early 20th-century pioneer, Bach Thai Buoi, the King of the Ocean and River Cruises, who inspired our team to follow in his footsteps and to apply ethical business practices in everything we do, ensuring you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
9. Natural light
We understand the importance of illumination, and the suites have been tastefully designed to benefit from natural light and air circulation. With your own private balcony, you can spend time outdoors or stay in the comfort of your suite.
10. Make it simple
Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication and luxury in the design of our suites. We avoid sharp-angled and reflective objects, ceiling fans, and vanity units which can become cluttered.
My name is Huong Pham, operations manager of Lux Cruises (Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises) in Hanoi. I would like to confirm for you that our Dcar Limousine will come and pick you up ataround 8:00 to 8:30 am at your given hotel address.
Mr. Tuan Nguyen will be your chauffeur driver for the comfortable journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay and the return (his cell phone number is 0944 768 833). This is a shared van for 9 guests so he may pick up some other passengers before heading to highway 5B to Halong Bay in Quang Ninh Province to the East of Hanoi. Upon arrival at the Tuan Chau harbor in Halong Bay, our cruise manager will be ready to welcome you aboard the cruise.
I would like to give you some brief information about the road journey. It takes about 2 and a half hours to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi on highway 5B for a distance of 180km from the destination. Halfway there, Mr. Tuan Nguyen will stop at the rest stop for refreshments. You will spend about 15 minutes there and you can get refreshments or take a bathroom break before getting back into the van.
At around 11:00 am, we will arrive at our Lux Cruises Lounge at slot number 28 in Tuan Chau International Passengers Port, and you will be met and greeted at our Lounge for refreshments before being transferred by our speedboat to reach the Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan or Emperor Cruises from 12 to 12:30pm . On board, fresh welcome drinks will be served, and the cruise manager will give you safety information, instructions, and the full itinerary for your cruise trip. Lunch will be served at around 1:00 to 1:30 pm.
In our van, for your comfort, we offer you complimentary wifi, water, wet tissues and an umbrella. For your entertainment, we have music, magazines and books. Mr. Tuan Nguyen will drive at an average of 80km per hour, and the air conditioning is set to a comfortable temperature by default. Feel free to ask him to adjust it to your preference.
During the journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay, if you have any questions or if you want to change the drop off hotel address in Hanoi, don’t hesitate to ask Mr. Tuan – he can speak a little bit of English. You can call me at +84-886-039-009 around the clock if you need further assistance or information.
Once again, thank you very much for choosing our Lux Cruises and traveling with us today, and our team and I wish you a safe and pleasant road journey to the paradise that is Halong and Lan Ha Bays.
Enjoy your transfer and cruising experience!
Xin cảm ơn!
Mr. Pham Ha founded Lux Group with a modest capital of 1,000 USD. From his own strength, his optimistic spirit and profound philosophy, he has turned Lux Group into a large corporation focusing on luxury tourism with Luxury Travel and two brands Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises. Destination Review had a talk with him to listen to the thoughts and values this “captain” wants to spread.
Mr. Pham Ha founded Lux Group with a modest capital of 1,000 USD. From his own strength, his optimistic spirit and profound philosophy, he has turned Lux Group into a large corporation focusing on luxury tourism with Luxury Travel and two brands Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises. Destination Review had a talk with him to listen to the thoughts and values this “captain” wants to spread.
Lux Group and I focus on bringing special experiences and emotions to our customers. As the experiences in each place vary, we have to create different products.
The Emperor Cruises brand was founded with inspiration from Bao Dai King, who owned countless palaces across Vietnam, so the Emperor brand focuses on the royal-life experiences, offering guests comprehensive first-class luxury services. Emperor Nha Trang, for example, has itineraries for 60 guests like Day Cruise with activities such as diving, swimming and visiting the fishing village, or the Sunset cruise with activities like watching the sunset, enjoying dinner and cocktail party on the cruise. Emperor Bai Tu Long in Ha Long, on the other hand, offers 1- to 3-night stay on the yacht.
For those travelers who accept to pay more handsomely to get all-inclusive services onboard from wine and food to spa, Emperor offers unique experiences to satisfy travelers in this top high-end segment. It is also suitable for travelers who would like the highest level of privacy, personalization and authenticity in their experiences.
As for Heritage, it leans towards expressing Vietnamese cultural, historical, artistic and social values and is inspired by the “King of Ship” Bach Thai Buoi. Heritage has a boutique concept and targets the 4-5-star segment, which helps it reach a wider range of customers compared to Emperor. Heritage has 20 rooms and can accommodate up to 60 guests. The Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cruise was also built to commemorate Bach Thai Buoi as indicated by its name “Binh Chuan”, one of his old ships. There is a bronze statue of him and 100 paintings commemorating the 100th anniversary of Binh Chuan first sailing onboard. In addition, we also collect and display ancient postcards of the original ship. With Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan, voyagers can enjoy a heritage space on board while “floating” among the natural heritage of Cat Ba Bay.
The division into many products makes it possible for us to meet demands from many segments in different markets. In addition, the two cruise brands exhibit different values and offer different experiences.
To answer this, it can first start with my great love for artworks and collecting paintings has been a hobby of mine. Vietnamese Fine Arts contributes to the art world with lacquer paintings and silk paintings, which are also the main types of Pham Luc’s paintings. He is the artist whose artwork I adore and collect with very special sack paintings to describe the Vietnam War.
From this hobby, I realized that paintings and art in general can be the great assets of the country as they reflect national culture and history. Through paintings, we can understand more about the past and the present, the war, the heritage as well as the life of the Vietnamese people. They are all great features to introduce both Vietnamese and foreign visitors to our art, history and culture and that is why I choose to include these heritage values on my cruises.
Besides paintings, the cruise also presents traditional Vietnamese costumes in the 30s, from royal attires to traditional ao dai. All of the above when converged on the Heritage Cruise Binh Chuan creates a “floating” cultural touch in the middle of the bay.
Visitors have a lot of time in their voyage, so they can experience and also learn more about the stories with ethnic values behind those very experiences. Instead of choosing to build the majestic Western-style ships, Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan chooses a true story to explore and express Vietnamese values of art, history, culture, cuisine. This can be considered a continuation of patriotism from Bach Thai Buoi. Since Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan was deployed, many customers have rated their satisfaction level of 6-7 stars on 7-star scale, which marks a remarkable recognition for a product created by Lux Group.
In general, it can be said that tourism and travel has changed my whole life. I have worked in various fields but since I worked in tourism, I am truly happy. I realize that travel is my biggest passion and as I am happy with what I am doing, I can spread it to the entire Lux Group and to the member companies as well. All our teams see customer experience and satisfaction as their ultimate goal in work. Passion is also highlighted in Lux Group’s 5P guiding principles, which are Passion, Purpose, People, Planet and Profit.
In my opinion, in the tourism and service industry, making customers happy can lead to self-happiness, so I call this a happy career. If you want to be happy, you must do it from the bottom of your heart, make it the way you wish to experience, towards the customer and put the customer’s needs first. Therefore, the core value I orient to my team is always “delivering happiness”.
Only by perceiving customers as the biggest “boss” that keeps business running and helps the business pay for its employees, all of my teams are customer-centric, working for customers, and thus, contributing to Lux Group’s success over the past 15 years. After years of experience, “delivering happiness” has always been and will always be the company’s core value.
I think that to be a leader is also to serve: serve your people, your team and your customers to create the company’s revenue. With the same mindset, we can easily and harmoniously join hands in creating new generations of businesspeople who share the same thought. To me, “delivering happiness” means to deliver happiness for myself first, then for my employees, for my customers, for social communities and finally for company profits.
Before Covid, Lux Group mainly focused on inbound tourists. The global outbreak meant there were no longer international visitors, so the company quickly turned to domestic travelers, targeting the luxury customers of the domestic market. Conversion is a difficult decision as we have to retrain our employees to recaptivate the new target customers to understand them. Only after understanding them can we serve them better. It took us about a month to implement all the new changes after considering carefully between the two options – to close down or to adapt. Fortunately, everyone agreed to adapt to serve the domestic market. And once the decision has been made, everyone was very proactive in learning, training, and holding daily briefing sessions to create new products based on customer profiles and their consumption habits.
In addition, most of the company’s activities are digitalized, making it possible for our employees to work from home, and for us to manage more easily. Thanks to digital transformation, we could collect data, analyze customer sentiments and predict travel trends so as to offer suitable products to meet customers’ expectations.
When the social quarantine ended on April 30, we decided to immediately implement new plans for constrained travel demand in the Vietnam travel market. Therefore, as soon as the product was launched, people welcomed it very enthusiastically, helping us to recognize the signs of success as soon as we redefined the target market. In May, we launched 5,000 vouchers and they were sold out within 15 days. Moreover, Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan is also one of the busiest cruises that voyaged almost non-stop since April 30. This is another signal to help us realize that we are on the right path to recover, to develop and to generate stable cash flow.
In fact, thanks to Covid, we have realized that the Vietnamese domestic market has great potential with a rapid growing population of nearly 100 million people and increasing strength in consumption. 2020 marked the year Vietnamese got to know about luxury cruise trips for the first time, a part of which resulted from our incentives targeting Vietnamese tourists. What we did bears some resemblance to the motto of Bach Thai Buoi, which is Vietnamese travel within Vietnam and use Vietnamese service providers. Just like foreign visitors, many Vietnamese also want to explore the beautiful islands and bays of Vietnam such as Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Bay or Nha Trang Bay while attending interesting activities on the cruise. Thereby, we changed our direction to domestic middle to high-end customers last year and received certain successes.
From now on, I have decided to focus more on Vietnam high-end travel market and set up an office for domestic and outbound markets. To summarize, Lux Group will both retain the original target market and expand to other potential markets, which means approaching the inbound market along with the domestic market and outbound market. I think this will be a promising orientation and will invest wholeheartedly in the future.
Lux Group and I have planned to deploy the new project on Pu Luong. Pu Luong is a wonderful destination located in the middle of terraced fields, which are highly likely to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. Our team plans to launch a 35-room boutique resort to take advantage of nature and indigenous culture to target wellness travelers.
Regarding the cruises, the Emperor Cruises brand plans to add another 150-seat cruise to Nha Trang in 2021 and to bring more ships to Phu Quoc by 2022. With Heritage, we are currently inspecting and developing another ship named Bach Thai Buoi, which is expected to come into operation in 2022, following the success of Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan.
My deepest desire for the company is to conquer all rivers in the North and realize Heritage’s biggest mission: to sail along the coast of Vietnam – just like Bach Thai Buoi sailing from Hai Phong to Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and Saigon, then to Cambodia and other ports in Asian region. These are the upcoming plans and missions of Lux Group and Heritage Cruises brand.