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Beaches & Resorts

Cat Ba Beach

Cat Ba is the main island in an archipelago, which is also named Cat Ba. As the largest island in the Gulf of Tonkin and surrounded by the stunning seascape of Bai Tu Long Bay and Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba has what it takes to become a tourism hub. In fact, acknowledging the potential of the island, the French, when they occupied Vietnam, had built Cat Ba into an established resort town of Tonkin. Today, Cat Ba, with its improving infrastructure and facilities, has been witnessing the influx of Vietnamese vacationers and foreign tourists every summer.

Cat Ba2 Cat Ba3 Cat Ba4

The most famous beaches are located on Cat Ba Island. They are the three lovely short beaches sandwiched between giant stones, namely Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2 and Cat Co 3. Nearby islands also have some very attractive yet less crowded beaches, such as Cat Dua, Cat Ong, Cat Trai Gai and Duong Danh. During summer, the crystal clear water, the luminous waves and the bracing wind under the sun turn these beaches into real paradises amidst the arid weather of Northern Vietnam.

Nonetheless, Cat Ba is not only about laying under the sun or diving into the water. Indeed, it is a lively coastal town that lightens up during the night. Cycling on double-bicycle along the wind-blowing coastal roads of Cat Ba is truly a romantic experience. A day trip to the nearby Lan Ha Bay, which is as mesmerizing as Ha Long Bay, or the mountainous, jungle-clad Cat Ba National Park will definitely enchant you.

Getting there

There are several ways to get to the island. From Halong City, there is ferry service to Cat Ba at Tuan Chau Island. The ferries here are most of the time overcrowded so you may want to come to the dock early. Some Halong cruises do include Cat Ba in their itineraries. From Hai Phong, there are two options, both are by sea. You can board high-speed boat from Ben Binh Harbour, which only takes 50 minutes to reach Cat Ba. Alternatively, you can travel by ferry from Dinh Vu Pier, which is cheaper but will take you 2 to 2.5 hours.

Best time to visit

The time when most people choose to visit Cat Ba is from May to November. The period from May to August, which is sunny and arid and sometimes has thunderstorm, is the peak season on Cat Ba. Hotels and resorts are fully booked and you may want to consider visiting the island on weekdays as weekend’s prices can double and even treble. September to November are less crowded; the temperature is mild, ranging from 25 to 28 degree Celsius. For the rest of the year, Cat Ba becomes dormant, belying its own title as a tourism hub. However, since Cat Ba Island has much more to offer beyond its central resort town, ranging from empty beaches on the periphery to the mountains in Cat Ba National Park, there are still many things to enjoy during this time.

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Beaches & Resorts

Furama Đà Nẵng wins hotel award

ĐÀ NẴNG — Furama Resort Đà Nẵng, the 5-star beach resort in central Việt Nam, has been named as the ‘most favored hotel of 2017’ by JALPAK, a renowned Japanese travel agency.

Furama Resort Đà Nẵng, the 5-star beach resort in central Việt Nam, has won the ’favored hotel of 2017’ by JALPAK, a Japanese tourism agency. — VNS Photo Trương Ngọc Thành

Furama Resort Đà Nẵng, the 5-star beach resort in central Việt Nam, has won the ’favored hotel of 2017’ by JALPAK, a Japanese tourism agency. — VNS Photo Trương Ngọc Thành

The resort’s PR manager, Trương Ngọc Thành, confirmed to Việt Nam News that the award, which was introduced in 2014, was announced earlier this month following a poll on hotels and restaurants among tourists.

He said the Furama resort was one of five hotels in Asia that won the award from JALPAK.

General Manager of Furama Resort Đà Nẵng, Matthias Wiesmann said Japan was one of the top three tourism markets for the beach resort.

He said the resort offered unique services for tourists from Japan by employing Japanese staff and exchanging cuisine programmes among Vietnamese and Japanese chefs.

The resort was one of the largest importers in central Việt Nam of Kobe beef from Japan, he said.

In 2017, the Furama resort won two other trophies – the Luxury Ocean View Resort and the Luxury Wedding Destination – at the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards in St. Moritz, Switzerland. — VNS

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Five destinations with terrific terraced fields for an October visit in Vietnam

It is harvest season, and the terraced rice fields are at their most beautiful.

The terraced fields are ripening, creating amazing scenery throughout the highlands of Vietnam. If you are a person who enjoys lovely landscapes, you should check out these places for a green and gold treat.

1. Sapa

Sapa, situated 300 kilometers away from Hanoi, attracts tourists throughout the year. But the two months of autumn is when Sapa, a town in the northern province of Lao Cai, becomes truly beautiful. During the harvest season, from the mountains down into the valleys is a stunning yellow and green carpet.

The best place in Sapa is Muong Hoa Valley with villages like Ta Van, Ta Phin, Cat Cat, and Sin Chai being your main focus since the terraced fields look the best here.

Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.

Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.

Sapa is famous for salmon, sturgeon and mountain vegetables. The sturgeon and salmon are farmed in small lakes in mountain villages.

There are also street food vendors who serve bamboo tube rice with barbecued chicken and other snacks.

Lodging in Sapa is pretty cheap. A night in town will cost you only around VND300,000 ($13). You can get even cheaper prices in homestays and mountain villages, with a night’s stay costing VND100,000 ($4.2).

Sapa is cold at night and early morning. So carry a light jacket or a windbreaker. Also remember to carry a face mask to protect your nose and throat from the cold. When walking around the terraced fields, it’s best to wear a pair of boots to avoid getting dirty because sometimes it can get really muddy.

2. Pu Luong

Autumn is the best time to visit Pu Luong, a nature reserve in Thanh Hoa Province 170 kilometers away from Hanoi. The weather at Pu Luong is cool throughout the year, even in summer. In autumn Pu Luong, where it is harvest season, is magnificent with its golden rice fields creating a carpet extending from village to village.

This nature reserve also has a 1,700-meter mountain with the same name. Pu Luong Mountain is among trekkers’ favorite spots. Normally it takes six to eight hours to reach the top if the weather is good. From there you can get a panoramic view of the grand and marvelous valley.

Pho Don Market is well worth a visit in Pu Luong. It only opens on Thursday and Sunday every week. You can buy souvenirs like brocade textile and try local treats like sweet/savory doughnut, fruits and mountain vegetables.

Mountain villages like Hieu, Don and Kho Muong are also places you should check out for terraced fields.

Co Lung grilled duck

Co Lung grilled duck

A variety of delicacies can be found in Pu Luong such as grilled fish, stir-fried chicken, roasted pork marinated with Indian pepper, and bamboo shoot soup. But the most special dish in Pu Luong is grilled Co Lung duck. The meat is tender and fragrant since it’s grilled on charcoal. A whole roasted duck costs about VND450,000 ($19.4) and is good for three or four people.

A homestay in Pu Luong

A homestay in Pu Luong

There is currently only one resort in Pu Luong named Pu Luong Retreat and it is usually full. But there are many hostels and homestays there. Some notable places are Pu Luong Hostel, Tho Ha Homestay, Pu Luong Rice Road, and Pu Luong Tree House and their prices range from VND150,000 to 250,000 ($6.5 to 10.8) per night.

A good pair of walking shoes is recommended in Pu Luong. Also remember to take a bottle of insect repellent because there can be a lot of mosquitoes at night.

3. Mu Cang Chai

There are 2,200 hectares of terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai, including 500 ha in the three communes of La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh, which have been recognized as national landscapes by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The terraced fields here are recognized as one of the unique landscapes of Vietnam. Mu Cang Chai has become a popular destination in early October every year when the rice harvest starts.

Terrace parade of course is the way to go here. You can check out the terraced fields in valleys like Tu Le, La Pan Tan or Khau Pha , one of the four imposing mountain passes in the northwest of Vietnam. Although Mu Cang Chai is poor and relatively underdeveloped, it has a very rich natural environment

Tu Le ground green rice flakes.

Tu Le ground green rice flakes.

There are many delicacies in Mu Cang Chai, especially roasted black pig, salmon salad, Tu Le sticky rice, and bee chrysalis.

Mu Cang Chai is usually very crowded during the harvest season, and so you should book in advance if you want to go in October. The price for a night here is about VND300,000 ($13) at motels and VND100,000 ($4.3) if you choose a homestay.

Avoid driving on rainy days because the mountain road here is steep and can be really slippery.

4. Hoang Su Phi

Ha Giang Province, a neighbor of Lao Cai, is famous for its stunning mountain scenery and its border commune of Hoang Su Phi has probably the best terrace rice fields in Vietnam. The terraced fields of Hoang Su Phi were recognized as a national relic in 2012. There are around 3,000 hectares of terraces here.

You will never get tired of looking at these wonderful terraced beauties. The best terraces here are in villages like San Sa Ho, Ban Phung and Ho Thau.

Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi

Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi

You can try mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi in the form of dishes like roasted and low-heat grilled. Some say the meat tastes like chicken. Mice are an essential food for the La Chi ethnic people in Ha Giang. They also serve fried fish caught in the terraced rice fields.

There aren’t many places to stay in Hoang Su Phi because tourism has not developed much here. But you can find some homestays in the villages or motels in Vinh Quang Town for VND250,000 to 550,000 ($10.8 to 23.7) a night.

The weather in Hoang Su Phi is starting to get cold at night and in the early morning, so be sure to take a jacket with you. And be careful when you drive on the road from Ha Giang city to Hoang Su Phi because it’s narrow, winding and filled with trucks.

5. Y Ty

Y Ty is a commune in Lao Cai Province around 400 kilometers away from Hanoi. When autumn arrives, Y Ty is adorned with golden terraced rice fields and smells of grass. It is a relatively unknown place despite its wonderful landscapes.

To see terraces, you can visit A Lu and Den Thang rice fields. To catch a view of clouds, you can try trekking on the Nhi Cu San mountain range. Other attractions include the intersection of Lung Po Stream and the Red River and the Den Sang cardamom forest.

If you want to know more about the cultures of the ethnic people here, make sure to check out Lao Chai 1 and Lao Chai 2 villages, where the Ha Nhi people live.

A market day in Y Ty

A market day in Y Ty

The delicacies in Y Ty are pretty similar to other places in the northern highlands with roasted pig, chicken, mountain vegetables – but they are only cooked on festive occasions or market days. You can get regular food such as noodles and rice on normal days.

There are no hotels or resorts in Y Ty yet. But you can check out some homestays here and they cost only around VND70,000 ($3) though they have amenities like electricity, water and wifi. If the homestays are full up, you can even spend the night at the border station in Y Ty.

A pair of trekking shoes will be ideal for Y Ty since the roads here are quite muddy and slippery. And remember to carry some food since there aren’t many restaurants here.

Story by Tuan Hoang, Kieu Duong, Khanh Tran
Photos by Thao Linh, Huy Thang, Hoang Anh

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Top Beaches

Colorful flotilla dazzles in Phu Quoc

At the beginning of May, colorful sailing boats competed for the Kien Giang Open - Phu Quoc 2016 organized off Dinh Cau Beach on the southern island.

At the beginning of May, colorful sailing boats competed for the Kien Giang Open – Phu Quoc 2016 organized off Dinh Cau Beach on the southern island.

The boats were literally "exploring the southern land" - the official slogan of Visit Vietnam Year 2016.

The boats were literally “exploring the southern land” – the official slogan of Visit Vietnam Year 2016.

54 sailing enthusiasts formed 27 teams for the race, including crews from the U.S., France and the Czech Republic.

54 sailing enthusiasts formed 27 teams for the race, including crews from the U.S., France and the Czech Republic.

Boats at the start line.

Boats at the start line.

The race was a thrill for participants and a feast for the eyes.

The race was a thrill for participants and a feast for the eyes.


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