A cruise docks at Đà Nẵng’s Tiên Sa Port on a tour in Việt Nam. The country’s cruise industry has not yet invested enough to make it a top destination in Asia and the world. VNS Photo Công Thành
ĐÀ NẴNG – The marine tourism sector, which is a top priority of the country’s sea economy Master Plan 2030-45, has been struggling to attract investment in cruise harbours and coastal infrastructure to lure globally branded cruise fleets connected with worldwide destinations.
Chairman of the Việt Nam Tourism Association Vũ Thế Bình said cruise services are one of the key products in building marine tourism as a core part of the ‘blue sea economy’ plan.
Bình said sea tourism is still dealing with barriers that have blocked business and kept investors at bay for decades.
He said bottlenecks for tourism businesses and investors were the legal framework, destination management and poorly linked tour services among the 28 coastal provinces.
Vũ Duy Vũ, a senior expert of cruise service from Sài Gòn Tourist agency, said less complicated visa arrival procedures, upgrading ports and a highway system connecting ports and destinations are necessary for the cruise industry to thrive.
“Almost all cruises have to dock at cargo ports in Việt Nam, while international standards for entertainment and free-duty shops at arrival ports have yet to be developed,” Vũ said.
“Representative offices of the country’s tourism industry are not available at key cruise markets such as the US, Australia and EU,” he said.
Phạm Hà, CEO of Lux Group, said the port system from Hải Phòng to HCM City was poor quality and could not handle giant luxury or middle class cruise ships.
Hà said his own ship in Hạ Long Bay needs permissions from 18 local authorities to offer on-board night-stay service, while the group’s Emperor Cruise in Nha Trang had to get an international travel certificate to host dinner on board as ordered by the local tourism authority.
He explained that tourists on his cruise had to transship to visit Lan Hạ Bay in neighbouring Hải Phòng after finishing a tour in Bái Tử Long in Hạ Long Bay of Quảng Ninh province.
Hà said a one-stop procedure and GPS control given by port authorities of Quảng Ninh and Hải Phòng can help cruises exchange tour service at both bays.
Vũ Văn Đảo, director of Vũng Tàu Marina, a ship building company, said his company had to close in 2020 due to regulations on ship management and registration.
He said his 20-seat ships using Copolymer Polypropylene Polystone (PPC) from Europe were not registered for operation as no regulations on new materials for ship building existed.
Đảo said his new double-hull sailing boat design was used for hosting sailing festivals, but was refused by the local industrial park management board.
Flexible and quick responses are needed from local administrations to support the tourism business, he said.
Phạm Ngọc Thủy, director of Quảng Ninh provincial department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said every local destination should build their own unique product that would help keep cruise visitors in Việt Nam longer.
Quảng Ninh is a rare locality investing in ports for cruise ships, while Đà Nẵng has begun changing dual-use Tiên Sa Port for cruises only.
Thủy said local ports could be built to link cruise tour services with ports in Singapore and East Asia or Southeast Asia for wider options in different countries and destinations.
Adventurous beach sports, diving, kayaking, fishing, night art performances and entertainment should be included for local cruise fleets, while preferential policies are needed for investors in infrastructure, ship building and cruise ports, Hà added. — VNS
Cong Thanh – Vietnamnews.vn
Luxury Travel in Vietnam on the Rise and Affordable
Vietnam is emerging as a luxury destination in the world tourism map, Mr. Pham Ha, a travel guru in the tourism industry in Vietnam reveals the current luxury travel trends and his products for 2022. Ha is the founder and CEO of Lux Group which is group of small giants including Lux Limo, Lux Mice, Lux Hotels and Resorts, Adventura Travel, Secret Hideaways, Lux Travel Dmc, Luxury Travel, Emperor and Heritage Cruises.
The Travel Experts of Virtuoso in the U.S. just completed a trend survey of its member agencies, each of whom specializes in catering to the needs of luxury travelers. The survey indicates that Vietnam and Cambodia are the hottest destinations in Southeast Asia.
“With new luxury hotels and world class golf courses having recently opened or set to open soon, and the introduction of luxury train journeys, exclusive cruises and upscale private tours spanning the length of the country, Vietnam is fast emerging as an exciting destination for the high-end traveler.” said Pham Ha.
Today’s luxury travelers want to be entertained and stimulated, rather than simply pampered, and Vietnam offers a magical mix of tropical beaches, post-colonial charm, a string of world heritage sites, stunning inland scenery, world-renowned cuisine and a home-grown flair for hospitality.
“Today, luxury travel is about experiences and doesn’t need to be limited to the super rich. Indeed, it is a little-known fact that almost anybody can afford to travel in style, elegance and comfort without breaking the bank or even spending much more than traveling ordinarily. The world of luxury travel is actually a very accessible one.” reveals Pham Ha.
Upscale tours today also offer “off the beaten track” experiences. In a credit crunch environment, high end tourists also expect efficiency, seamless travel, value for the money and a return on personal values. Many will opt for short trips for their families which offer a slice of local culture, a splash of adventure, and authentic experiences.
Upscale tailor-made tours in Vietnam now come replete with yacht, cruises, helicopter tours, limousine services, and the whole nine yards.
There is also plenty of flexibility for all tours. Travelers are free to request helicopter tours, cycling excursions to craft villages, scuba diving or snorkeling trips, reservations at the finest restaurants in the land, meetings with renowned artists, chefs and designers, shopping recommendations, spa reservations, tours with special-interest lecturers, and exclusive access to local activities and cultural events.
Each day, tours are designed with flexibility to suit travelers’ personal interests, schedule and energy level. When it comes to luxury tours, the sky’s truly the limit. Lux Travel DMC (www.luxtraveldmc.com) has just won a World Travel Awards 2022 as a Vietnam’s leading luxury destination management company confirming this trend and position of Vietnam luxury tourism in the world tourism map.
Embark on a journey back in time to Vietnam in 1930s with Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago boutique lifestyle cruise in Lan Ha Bay in Cat Ba Archipelago. Combining the classical charm of French Indochina with a sense of timeless chic that only the Lux Cruises can provide, the cruise is as much an art and heritage space as it is a 5 star cruise. Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago invites guests to relive the romance of this bygone era in their boutique cruise which offers all the comforts of the 21st century.
The most luxurious cruise in Vietnam has many cultural features, bringing with it the stories of cultural and historical heritage, fine art, architecture, fashion, and the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine. The yacht is newly built based on the Binh Chuan ship built by the ship king Bach Thai Buoi, the first Vietnamese to launch a ship from Hai Phong to Saigon. From the point of departure 100 years ago, today’s Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan takes travelers on a journey to discover Lan Ha Bay in style, a vast sea area with hundreds of islands, lagoons, and beaches, large and small, an experience recognized by the world. Channel 14 describes it “as beautiful as a dream” and Leonardo DiCaprio praises the ‘paradise’ beauty of Lan Ha Bay.
On the cruise, travelers can discover the authenticity of Lan Ha Bay, Binh Chuan Heritage Cruise will bring travelers into a traditional cultural space, the glorious legend of the intangible heritage, and enjoy the beauty of the natural heritage of Vietnam. Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise will bring the most authentic experiences with a minimum of 40 guests and a maximum of 60 passengers on a magnificent and sophisticated cruise operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. Savored travelers will immerse into the culture, history, art, and people of Vietnam when cruising on a unique cruise amidst natural wonders. On this heritage cruise, travel connoisseurs can go upstream of history and culture to learn the business story of “Vietnam’s king of ships” Bach Thai Buoi and the life of the “Vietnamese Picasso“, Pham Luc, through a rich collection of 100 of his works collected and introduced by the owner Pham Ha in various locations.
Heritage Binh Chuan received the most prestigious award, TripAdvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice Awards “Best of The Best”. Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2020. Lux Cruises to expand the brand to Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province, and Cat Ba archipelago in Hai Phong city, for unique yachting experiences in the coming year.” Start our first expeditions on the Gulf of Tonkin and further expand between Hanoi and Halong Bay on the Red River and its tributaries, along the coastline of Vietnam, on the Mekong River and to other Southeast Asia countries.
Located near Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay boasts a stunning landscape as a paradise on earth with many floating fishing villages, thousands of years of culture, imposing limestone mountains, adventurous experiences in the forest as well as the crystal sea. Lan Ha Bay has just been listed as one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
Sitting on the south and east coast of Cat Ba Town, the 300-or-so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay but feel more isolated and untouched. “Geologically, Lan Ha is an extension of Ha Long Bay but sits in a different province”, the Lonely Planet once wrote.
From Hanoi, it takes visitors only 90 minutes to Pha Got, Hai Phong to start the discovery journey by yacht instead of 180 minutes to reach Ha Long Bay the traditional way. You can also go to the center of Cat Ba island via cable car system, which has recently been inaugurated.
Here are 10 things no one tells you about Lan Ha Bay and the boat tour to discover a masterpiece of nature:
1. Lan Ha Bay has just been listed as one of the most beautiful in the world
According to Thanh Nien newspaper, Lan Ha bay is rated as one of the most beautiful bays of Vietnam and the world. It has about 400 large and small limestone islands which are close together and wildly beautiful in many interesting shapes. One of the most favorable tours to Lan Ha Bay is a boat tour, which will provide you a closer view of the islands than that of Ha Long Bay. The bay has 139 small, pristine sandy beaches, lying between two blocks of mountains with the clear blue sea to the bottom. They are safe and extremely ideal beaches.
2. Lan Ha Bay belongs to Cat Ba archipelago, which includes more than 400 large and small islands
Cat Ba archipelago belongs to Hai Phong city. Cat Ba Island is the largest of its kind in the Cat Ba archipelago and the second largest in Vietnam, just behind Phu Quoc Island.
3. In order to visit Lan Ha Bay, visitors can depart from two main piers, namely Pha Got and Ben Beo
The world-famous magazine Travel and Leisure recommends visitors take the Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise to explore Cat Ba.
Pha Got is the place where luxury boats with 4 and 5-star rankings gather. Ben Beo is the place where smaller boats gather, suitable for small groups of visitors and families. Travel and Leisure also recommends travelers to take Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise to explore Cat Ba if traveling with family and children.
7. The number of natural beaches in Lan Ha Bay is immeasurable at low tide
Tourists can freely stop their boats anywhere and swim. The pristine beautiful beaches recommended are Ba Trai Dao, Cay Bang beach, Pineapple Beach, and Monkey Island.
8. On a few small islands in Lan Ha Bay, there are resorts to meet the needs of tourists who want to stay overnight.
The quality of service is quite good and the beautiful beaches make these resorts quite impressive. Guests can choose to combine a yacht experience with a resort or a hotel on Cat Ba Island to have an experience on the island and on a cruise if they have enough time.
9. Viet Hai fishing village located next to Lan Ha Bay is a must-go destination
This is an ancient village, surrounded by highly protected, primeval forests. Tourists can cycle or take an electric car to visit this village. There are also some homestays there to serve those who want to stay overnight.
10. Tourists can combine visiting Lan Ha Bay with Cat Ba National Park, explore Ngu Lam peak, Quan Y cave, Trung Trang cave, local markets, fishing ports, and the old Van Van fish sauce factory on Cat Ba island.
Here are 31 reasons why you should choose Heritage Cruises, the most unique cruise compared to the 500 other boats here.
1. Cruise and celebrate 100 years of history and heritage on the first boutique style cruise in Vietnam.
2. The first four-season swimming pool in Vietnam, the largest in the Gulf of Tonkin, integrated with jacuzzi, using electrolysis to clean the water, which is good for your health.
3. The largest and first swimming pool bar in Vietnam, an ideal place to enjoy cocktails and watch the sunset.
4. Contemplate the first designed ship gallery, the largest floating art exhibition in Vietnam and Asia.
5. 100 stories and experiences on the cruise ship, on the shore, and on and under the water.
6. Enjoy a SUP experience and try the first transparent kayak in Halong Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago.
7. The cruise serves the quintessence of Northern cuisine, unique egg coffee, and fine dining with musicians playing in the background.
8. Large bedroom and bathroom in all suites, plus panoramic views all in accord with feng shui. All rooms have no TV, see nature passing by through the window. With the constantly changing landscape it’s the largest TV in the Gulf of Tonkin.
9. The largest wine cellar in the Gulf of Tonkin with a wide selection of fine wines
10. 1000 luxurious check-in spaces, virtual living and ecstatic beauty.
11. The cruise ship has the most public and social space among the 500 boats and ships in Halong Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago.
12. The largest ship in the Gulf of Tonkin with the fewest rooms, excellent safety, plus environmentally friendly, with the most unique architecture in Vietnam.
13. A cruise built from the passion, mind, vision, and talent of the investor, as well as of the luxury experts, and built from the customer’s perspective, satisfying the aesthetic taste of the elite.
14. We don’t just sell a cabin, but the whole experience, story and cruising dream of the king of ships in Vietnam: Bach Thai Buoi.
15. Sundeck space, swimming pool, reception room, and the best panorama restaurant for the most luxurious wedding party in the Bay.
16. The most ideal cruise in the Gulf of Tonkin for luxury MICE and wedding events.
17. These cruises have the most worthy culinary experience in the Gulf of Tonkin.
18. The cruise has an art lobby space, skylight, Indochine stairs and vintage style, the largest and most beautiful lobby space among yachts on the Gulf of Tonkin.
19. The cruise has both a basement for living and space for service staff.
20. The cruise ship has a 1:1 employee-to-guest ratio for the first time in the Gulf of Tonkin.
21. This cruise has the first high-speed cruise experience for the thrill of adventure when traveling and exploring in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two speedboats, external engines, the strongest and fastest moving in the Gulf of Tonkin.
22. Experience the first 4-day expeditions in the Gulf of Tonkin.
23. The library named Bach Thai Buoi has the most cultural and historical books in the Gulf of Tonkin.
24. The most kid-friendly cruise with 30 board games. The first yacht to be pet-friendly for dogs and cats.
25. The first cruise to have a centralized air conditioning system, instead of a separate air conditioner for each room. There is a heater and the room always has fresh air and a good private balcony, it’s always cool and relaxing for passengers.
26. Heritage Binh Chuan Cruise offers creative services such as breakfast in bed, couples floating breakfast at the pool, or romantic fine dining with candles and private accomodation in the wine cellar or outdoor lounge.
27. We provide room service 24/7 free.
28. Two spa rooms with sauna service, free sauna for self-service guests to experience 24 hours a day.
29. In Particular, we designed two pavilions on the sundeck for admiring the dawn, sunrise, and sunset, completely private and romantic for couples.
30. Free afternoon tea at Song Hong Lounge, with music. Guests can even play piano and guitar for themselves.
31. You also have the choice of doing nothing, just resting, relaxing, exploring, dreaming and discovering in your own way as a world class travel connoisseur.Go to hear, see, touch, smell, taste, and experience more. This means that the body gets to live and the anxious mind and passionate heart finally have the opportunity to be jubilant and excited.
It is full of new feelings, unforgettable impressions of landscapes, people, stories, and unexpected encounters. The breadth of human life never ceases to amaze.
As a famous tourist destination, Cat Ba Archipelago, including Lan Ha Bay with its 400 islands and 150 beaches, converges on 5 national and international titles: Scenic Landscape – Special National Heritage, World Biosphere Reserve, National Park, Marine Conservation Area, and National Park. It is one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
Explore, dream, discover, enjoy, relax, experience, and immerse yourself in heritage right away, learn more at www.heritagecruises.com
The Lux Group is to launch Vietnam’s first boutique cruise bringing heritage alive in the Gulf of Tonkin and on the Red River.
Already operating in Vietnam’s Nha Trang Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, under the five-star Emperor Cruises brand name, Heritage Cruises, a member of the Lux Group, will launch its first boutique cruise in the Cat Ba Archipelago in the Tonkin Gulf under the brand name of Heritage Cruises.
Launching this May, Heritage Cruises will offer authentic experiences for 40 guests aboard an architecturally designed boutique river and ocean cruise ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. Amenities include a luxury spa, movie under stars, two restaurants, indoor and outdoor lounges, pool bar and swimming pool and 20 suites with picture windows offering river and ocean views.
Heritage Cruises derives the inspiration for its boutique concept and design from the heritage ships of the patriotic entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi, who transformed transportation on the waterways of Tonkin in the north of Vietnam in the early 20th century.
The cruise ship can accommodate 40 guests at the same time
Being a heritage-inspired designer cruise ship, but still with a boutique concept, Heritage Cruises care about the guest experience, offering them an upscale lifestyle with an artistic twist, together with concierge services.
“Like boutique hotels, boutique cruises are characterized by their intimate atmosphere and idiosyncratic style. They distinguish themselves from larger chain cruises by offering personalized attention and stylish, themed accommodation and a story to tell. We want to create memorable moments that focus on the local culture and arts encountered on the way.” said Pham Ha, CEO of Heritage Cruises.
“Our boutique cruise categorizes its ships not with stars but by “character, quality, style and the overall unique experience of staying there”. As Heritage Cruises’ first boutique cruise, which is positioned as four-star rating for the whole experience, we want to raise the bar for the art of cruising in the Halong Bay region. We ensure we give our clients the “ultimate in luxury and sophistication” and “out of the ordinary on- board facilities,” he added.
Beyond offering a cozier atmosphere, the small size of this ship creates a completely different experience, both onshore and on board. Smaller ships allow easy access to remote, less-visited places that the larger vessels just can’t get to, leading to refreshingly unique itineraries. This authentic experience offers the chance to cruise the Gulf of Tonkin (Lan Ha Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Halong Bay) in an authentic and unique style, complemented by personalized service and on-request limousine transfers, which Heritage Cruises offers, taking the 5B highway from Hanoi to cut the journey down to just 1.5 hours.
Heritage Cruises is available for FITs (free independent travelers), small groups and charters. This top-notch cruising experience is for repeat travelers to Vietnam wanting something different, exotic, and out of the ordinary. The exclusive cruising experiences are highly recommended for heritage travelers, seasoned leisure travelers, active holidaymakers, honeymooners, families, fine-art enthusiasts, nature lovers, photographers, groups of friends, VIPs and celebrities.
Cat Ba Island has a surface area of 285km2 and retains the dramatic and rugged features of Halong Bay. This island belongs to Haiphong City – an important industrial city which, together with Hanoi and Halong, forms an important economic triangle in north Vietnam.
Approximately half of Cat Ba Island is covered by its national park, which is the home to the highly endangered Cat Ba Langur. The Cat Ba Archipelago boasts pristine beaches, secluded lagoons, coves, tropical forests, and lakes, allowing holidaymakers to swim, kayak and bike to fully experience the Gulf of Tonkin. The itinerary also includes the fishing villages of Lan Ha Bay, and watersports such as kayaking, squid fishing, snorkeling and wildlife spotting.
A pristine beach in Cat Ba Archipelago
On the three-deck Heritage Cruises ship, 20 suites range from 33 – 80 square metres, while food and beverage options include Le Tonkin and Indochinerestaurants for Vietnamese gourmet cuisine.
The ship also features an outdoor deck, complete with Vietnam’s first infinity swimming pool on a cruise ship, pool bar, and private cabanas, the Bach Thai Buoi Library for reading and relaxation, the White Lotus Spa offering massages and essential oil treatments, a dry sauna, fitness center, movies under the stars, and games room as well as its art gallery and auction center.
Heritage Cruises offers a floating exhibition, L’Art de l’Annam, with the first designer art gallery of artist Pham Luc, known as the Picasso of Vietnam, along with the works of other famous Vietnamese artists. Guided art tours can be arranged as well as occasional auctions.
Concierge services are a specialty on the vessel, with a one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio ensuring every need is attended to. On board are 40 crew members, including a cruise director and experiences manager.
Apart from daily limousine transfers between Hanoi and Cat Ba Archipelago upon request, the Heritage Cruises team can also arrange for private charter airplanes, helicopters or seaplanes.
“Our cruises operate from Got Harbor in Haiphong for the day cruise, with scheduled one- or two-night programs such as the Heritage Discover and Heritage Explorer. In addition, three- to four-night Heritage Expeditions to the former trading seaport of Van Don and private charters for leisure and professionals are available upon request,” said Ha.
“Travel is all about places, experiences, and memories. We will first sail this brand through the karst seascape of the Cat Ba Archipelago, linking to Van Don, then we will cruise upstream and downstream from the highlands to the capital, Hanoi, and the Gulf of Tonkin over 8 days, following the old river trading waterway, Hanoi-Pho Hien-Van Don.”
“My goal is to gradually build maritime connections from north to south, staying two or three nights in each destination, as part of a 10-14 day expedition,” he said.