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

Vietnamese Heritage Binh Chuan to Receive Travelers’ Choice Awards 2022

June 14, 2022 By Tin Tức Comments Off

(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

Vietnam in a day

June 10, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

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

What Are the Characteristics of Boutique Cruises?

June 7, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

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.

Feng Shui experience

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.

Comfortable journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay and the return

Xin chào

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!

Hường Phạm
Operations Manager
Lux Cruises
www.lux-cruises.com

CEO Pham Ha – Leading is serving

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.

Heritage cruising

Heritage Cruises derives inspiration from the heritage ships of the inspirational patriotic entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi, who transformed transportation on the waterways of Tonkin in the north of Vietnam in the early 20th century.  By Pham Ha, CEO of Heritage Cruises brand.

 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Vietnamese Binh Chuan cruise, which in 1919 became the first ship to cruise along the coastline of Vietnam from Haiphong to Saigon.When I was 12, a few years after the reunification of North and South Vietnam, my father and I sailed from Haiphong to Saigon on a cruise ship donated by the Norwegian government.

My childhood memories of industrial Haiphong are of extensive damage following the war and workers cycling home from factories.

I savoured the incessant beauty of my country while sailing all the way down the coast. It was like a dream come true and it was then that I planned to build my own fleet of cruise ships.

I fell in love with Halong bay in 1995 and came to know every single island, camping on the isolated beaches and exploring by kayak. At that time, travelling the 175km to Halong bay took almost 10 hours. In 1997, I took a film crew to the bay to film ‘Vertical Ray of the Sun’, directed by Tran Anh Hung and filmed in Cua Van floating village between Halong Bay and the Cat Ba archipelago.

The scenes that I treasure most from the movie are those with local people and the images of the frangipani trees with their creamy flowers. The film is shown on board Heritage Cruises.

PASSION FOR CRUISING

I initially launched a fleet of cruises under the brand Emperor Cruises in Nha Trang bay, Bai Tu Long bay and in the Cat Ba archipelago and have now established Heritage Cruises on the Red river. I plan to develop longer trips from north to south Vietnam to fulfill my childhood dream.

My first project, Emperor Cruises, explored some of the world’s loveliest bays and beaches. The concept was inspired by the luxurious lifestyle of Emperor Bao Dai, the last monarch of the Nguyen Dynasty. He had six beautiful villas and palaces in the most exquisite destinations in Vietnam.

I was fortunate to meet the Hue Researcher, Nguyen Dac Xuan, and following an in-depth study of his life, I wrote a book about Emperor Bao Dai. On the Emperor Cruises boats, Vietnam’s first five-star all-inclusive cruise with butler and limousine services, our guests can enjoy the luxurious lifestyle of an emperor.

The soul of Tonkin inspired the design and décor of the Heritage Cruise boats, Vietnam’s first boutique cruise on the Red river and in the Gulf of Tonkin, that sails through the Cat Ba archipelago and Halong bay before connecting with the capital, Hanoi, and the Highlands via the Red river and its tributaries.

As a heritage-inspired designer cruise ship with a boutique concept, Heritage Cruises prioritises guest experience, offering upscale service with an artistic twist and a focus on local culture and arts.


For this personal project, I explored from Hoa Binh on the Black River, along the Clear River and the Red River, right down to the delta regions in Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh and Ha Nam. Along the way I met artisans, craftsmen, historians, researchers, artists, painters and overseas Vietnamese and learned their stories.

MOVING STORIES

One evening during the fall of 2017, I was chatting with three friends in the vintage Maxim’s Cafe on Dien Bien Phu street in Haiphong, when a French-speaking couple around 60-65 years of age and another Vietnamese couple of around 70-75 years entered the coffee shop.

The Viet Kieu gentleman approached me to seek help in a heavy accent. I knew he spoke French, so we started a conversation and I ended up becoming their interpreter. The man, Henri de Bollivier, shared his moving story with me.

Henri’s Vietnamese mother had married a French doctor working in Haiphong during the Indochina War. They both left Vietnam in 1954 after the defeat of France at Dien Bien Phu when the Geneva Peace Accord was signed.

Henri grew up on the island of French Reunion but his parents divorced and his mother moved to Paris. As she grew older she wanted to return to Vietnam but was too weak to travel so far. She wanted Henri to go back home on her behalf, find his roots and pay respect to his ancestors and homeland.

Henri had visited Haiphong on two occasions to find his family, but without success. The third time, with the help of a letter from Vietnam, he travelled to Haiphong with his French wife and was overjoyed to find his family.

Henri was delighted to show his wife colonial Haiphong and other sights. They tried famous local dishes, learned how to make the best nuoc nam (fish sauce) and discovered the quintessence of Tonkin. I was touched by their story and realised how important it is to trace your roots.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HERITAGE

Through the cruises I have met inspirational people, enriched my life with new experiences and started an ever-growing collection of old stamps, postcards, photos, paintings, and antiques. Heritage Cruises passengers can see this collection on board in the l’Art de l’Annam exhibition.

Heritage tourism is a niche market where guests personally encounter traditions, history, the arts and culture and visit communities whose residents tell their own story.

I admire the nationalist entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi, his ethical business and start-up spirit; we have shared values as we both come from a poor background and started our working lives with French people. French is the first foreign language that I learned and my first trip abroad was to France at the age of 20.


It was my burning ambition to cruise from Haiphong to Saigon, emulating the first Vietnamese ship to do so on its maiden voyage in the early 20th century.THINK BIG AND DREAM BIG

A century later you can embark on a voyage through time on a Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan ship – a vessel designed and recreated from heritage designs and with impeccable service fit for the 1920-30s bourgeoisie.

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

It is the total experience − the unique impression derived from the quality, quintessence and ambiance in a spectacular location − that makes a Heritage Cruise unforgettable.

Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay? Which one is better?

Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay? Which one do you choose? In the northwest region of Vietnam, there is an increase in a new destination – Lan Ha Bay appealing lots of visitors. It can be seen that Lan Ha Bay makes tourists feel exactly like globally acclaimed Halong Bay yet without a large number of visitors who have blemished the experiences of its magnificent sceneries. Halong Bay, undeniably, is always lied on the list of every Vietnam’s travel itinerary because of its natural beauty. On the other hand, there is no denying that Lan Ha Bay is highly recommended to be a “must-visit attraction” by many visitors as well as travel bloggers. Probably, you find it hard to decide which place you’ll go on a holiday. 

In this article, Heritage Cruises will help you to list out all of the necessary information of Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay regarding geographical features, how to get to the destination and some differences between the two as well so that you can decide by your own, which one is better. 

  • Geographical features 

It can be true that Lan Ha Bay belongs to the same area with Halong Bay so both of them share similar geographical features and the climate condition. Despite some similarities, there are absolutely different topographies. 

* Halong Bay 

Situated in the northeast region of Vietnam, Quang Ninh Province, Halong Bay is a part of the Gulf of Tonkin. It covers a total area of around 1,553 km2, with 1,969 islands of varied sizes and shapes, including 989 of which have been given names. There are two main kinds of islands which possess different types of topography: limestones and schists. The average age of topography on this island is between 250 and 280 million years old. 

The dense concentration of limestone islands, caves and grottos, magnificent sceneries creates the central area of Halong Bay, one of the World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO. The area of 434 km2 including 775 beautiful islands is put under protection. 

* Lan Ha Bay 

Lan Ha Bay is situated in the east of Cat Ba Island (Hai Phong Province), the south of Halong Bay and has around 400 karst limestones island surrounded by evergreen charm and vegetation. By going around this bay, you’ll a have chance to contemplate many islets with small and untouched beaches. Lan Ha Bay is the home of lots of mountains with different names depending on the imagination of tourists, for example, Hon Quoc Islet (Wooden Shoe islet), Dao Khi – Monkey Island and etc. Lan Ha Bay possesses about 139 beautiful sandy beaches and spreads over 7,000 ha including that the area of 5,400 ha is under-managed by The Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO – Cat Ba National Park. 

Geographically and aesthetically, there is no difference between Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Both of them possess thousands of limestone karsts, magnificent islands, plenty of beaches and spectacular landscapes and seascapes. It can be true that Halong Bay has a high level of the density of the islands compared to Lan Ha Bay in which the islands are scattered along the bay. On one hand, Halong Bay is recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders in the world; therefore, it has been opening the gate for tourist visitations and tourism development from the very first time. On the other hand, Lan Ha Bay still keeps its pristine beauty, even unique and attractive ones. Thereby, tourists truly enjoy the beautiful sceneries and immerse themselves in Lan Ha Bay. 

2. How to get there 

2.1 How to get to Halong Bay 

  • From Hanoi: around 174 km from Hanoi City. Due to the new highway, taking 2h50 mins. There are several options below helping tourists to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
  • By road: Coach from My Dinh Station or Gia Lam Station (Hanoi) to Bai Chay Station (Halong City). Ticket fee: VND 100,000 to VND 250,000/person/one way. From Bai Chay Station, you can take a taxi to get Halong Bay, 40 mins. 
  • The shuttle bus is offered by Hanoi local tour operator. Tourists can be picked up and dropped off tourists around the Old Quarter area. Then it transfers the guest to arrive in Halong Bay. Ticket fee: USD 10 – 20/person/ 1 way. It can be included if you book a Halong Bay tour or an overnight cruise. 
  • Going by a private car takes 1.5 hours. It’s more convenient and suitable for a family with kids. 
  • By air: You’ll take a seaplane at Noi Bai International Airport, from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Port (Halong City), only 45 mins. Besides, you’ll have 15 mins to look over Halong Bay from the seaplane. Hai Au Aviation is the only seaplane service-provider in Vietnam up to now. The price is about VND 9,300,000/adult/1 way.  
  • From other places like Ho Chi Minh City, Danang City or Buon Ma Thuot, etc. You can take an airplane directly to Van Don International Airport (Quang Ninh Province). 

2.2 How to get to Lan Ha Bay

  • From Hanoi:  around 134 km from Hanoi City, nearly 2 hours due to the new highway. Common route: Hanoi – Haiphong City (by road) – Cat Ba Island (by speedboat or ferry or cruise) – Lan Ha Bay. Unlike Halong Bay, you can visit right away in Halong City; however, to go to Lan Ha Bay, you have to access to Cat Ba Island by speedboat or ferry. Then you can continue Lan Ha Bay trip. Like Halong Bay, there are also some options to get Lan Ha Bay for the guests to choose: 

By road

  • By sharing tourist bus/a shuttle bus to Dinh Vu Port offered by some companies such as Good morning Cat Ba (VND 340,000/person/1 way). Cat Ba Express (VND 590,000/person/ roundtrip including bus + speedboat); Hoang Long (VND 225,000/person/1 way), Inter Bus Lines (VND 150,000/person/1 way). It can pick up tourists at hotels in the Old Quarter and drops off at hotels in Cat Ba Island. Then get on a speedboat to Cai Vieng Port on Cat Ba Island from Dinh Vu Port, 30 mins. This way costs 3.5 hours.  
  • By private van: taking around 2h. This is highly recommended for a big group of travelers or a family with children. When you reach Got Harbour, following the rest of the route by speedboat to get to Cai Vieng Port on Cat Ba Island. If you rent a private van, it will take VND 2,600,000/one way. 

By air: You can get Cat Ba Island from Cat Ba International Airport. The route is that Cat Bi Airport (Haiphong) – Binh Harbour (by road, 35 mins) – Cai Vieng Pier on Cat Ba Island (by speedboat, 10 mins) – Cat Ba Town (by bus, 40 mins) – Lan Ha Bay. 

By cruise: Hai Phong city – Got Harbour (by road, 45 mins). From Got Harbour, Heritage Cruises offer distinctive tour itineraries to discover Cat Ba Island and Lan Ha Bay. 

  • From other places: Tourists can take a plane to Cat Bi International Airport. Then, you look through common routes mentioned above on how to get to Lan Ha Bay. 

Generally, there are several ways to reach Halong Bay as well as Lan Ha Bay. Those ways are quite convenient and easier to find. 

3. Differences 

3.1 Must-visit attractions 

There is no denying that for quantity, at least Lan Ha Bay matches with Halong Bay regarding the top destinations and unmissable features of each itinerary visiting the gulf. The quality, however, modifies significantly. 

  • Halong Bay 

Titop Island, Soi Sim Beach, Tuan Chau Beach, and Bai Chay Beach are considered as one of the most attractive beaches in Halong Bay. Titop Island has a beach which is the most accessible for guests, so this place can get serious congestion in the peak season. Besides, Soi Sim Beach can offer a panoramic view from the top but it’s in the development process. The beach remains its mystery, probably due mostly to the very recent development and the appearance of the appealing of thatched-roof umbrellas that create plentiful shapes. 

Sung Sot Cave is the masterpiece of uniqueness and natural beauty for its large cavernous areas featured by stalactites and stalagmites. Thien Cung and Trinh Nu are also known for their magnificent beauty. For history, Dau Go (Cave of the Wooden Stakes) brings itself lots of historical proofs, which serves as a vital place to store the wood that would finish preventing Mongol invasion in the 13th century. 

Cua Van Fishing Village still remains its ancient, grace, and retain a distinctive traditional culture. In 2012, It has been listed on the Journeyetc.com tourist website as one of the 16 most beautiful ancient villages in the world. 

  • Lan Ha Bay 

Lan Ha Bay also has amazing destinations to attract visitors to this area. There are  139 beaches lying scattered throughout Lan Ha Bay, which allows tourists to contemplate from the cruises. The trio of Cat Co 1,2 and 3 Beach, Van Boi Beach, Ba Trai Dao Beach (Three Peaches Beach) and Tung Thu Beach are known as one of the most appealing beaches in Lan Ha Bay. Ba Trai Dao Beach has attracted tourists by not only its charming beauty but an interesting myth to explain the appearance of the three rocks that give the islet its name as well. Tung Thu is another attractive one offering on the south coast of Cat Ba Island, while Van Boi offers the chance to engage in scuba-diving to watch the colorful coral reefs underwater. It’s true that Lan Ha Bay has remained more tranquil and pristine beaches than Halong Bay. 

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

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

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

3.2 Tourism activities

The natural landscapes of both bays make them perfect for some water sport activities, especially kayaking is the most popular activity. Undoubtedly, every itinerary visiting Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay includes kayaking activity around the gulf, including the day trip. Tourists can realize the importance of being closer to the natural environment from a plastic canoe. 

On one hand, there are many places in Halong Bay for going kayaking such as Cua Van Fishing Village, Luon Cave which can provide the guests with some of the most magnificent and unique views in Halong Bay. Ho Dong Tien offers the tranquility that tourists are supposed to be totally got lost amongst the beautiful landscapes during a 30-minute kayaking session. 

Like Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay also possesses plenty of spots for tourists to go kayaking, for example, Ba Trai Dao Beach, Tra Bau, and Viet Hai Village. Paddling around Ba Trai Dao Island will be absolutely an awe-inspiring activity. A peaceful area where big kite birds fly above and mountains slope high out of the pristine water in Tra Bau is also an ideal place for kayaking. It can be seen that Viet Hai Fishing Village on Cat Ba Island – a historic community living closer to the water area provides a chance for tourists to get involved in kayaking activity. Undoubtedly, Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay is an ideal attraction for kayaking activity after all.  

3.3 Numbers of tourists 

As mentioned before, due to the similarities of Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay, tourists might find it hard to choose between two destinations for their trip. Actually, tourists regularly complain about the huge number of people coming to Halong Bay like them. As a result, some famous spots easily get crowded, especially Titop Island and Sung Sot Cave; however, the bay is extremely enormous so there still has enough space for the guests’ relaxation. 

Regarding Lan Ha Bay, its unique selling point is that it looks exactly the same as Halong Bay but it still keeps the pristine beauty compared to Halong Bay and not many tourists come to this beautiful island. Recently, there is a rising trend for tourists to shift visiting from Halong Bay to Lan Ha Bay. It’s also true since Quang Ninh Province stopped new firms from starting cruise ships in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay; consequently, Lan Ha Bay becomes the only place in the Gulf of Tonkin to develop. Heritage Cruises is available to ensure the guests have a beautiful cruise trip around Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island.

Which one should you visit? Some aspects of Halong Bay are better than Lan Ha Bay and vice versa. When deciding to choose between Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay, it’s vital for you to consider what do you want for your trip. If you would like a wide range of tourism activities with many spots to visit, Halong Bay has something suitable for you. However, if you want to seek a peaceful and tranquil place and immerse yourself in pristine waterways in the Gulf of Tonkin, you should pick Lan Ha Bay with more secluded and authentic fishing villages.