Thursday, December 14, 2017











































Monday, November 27, 2017

Bạch Long Vĩ island

Bach Long Vi island is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, about halfway between Hai Phong (Vietnam) and Hainan Island (China). The island is an offshore district of Haiphong City. Fishing comprises the majority of economic activity in the Gulf of Tonkin, and Bach Long Vi is a major nursery and harvesting area for fish eggs. More than 50 species of commercial fish are abundant in the area (ADB 1999).

Contents  [hide]
1 Name
2 Geography
3 History
4 Wildlife and biodiversity
5 Conservation issues
6 References
In Vietnamese, "Bạch Long Vĩ" means "The Tail of the White Dragon". This name has its root from an ancient Vietnamese legend. According to the legend, when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade.[citation needed] These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the sea, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. After that, dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the earth, and then decided to live here.[citation needed] The place where the mother dragon descended was named Hạ Long meaning "Descending Dragon", the place where the dragon's children attended upon their mother was called Bái Tử Long island (Bái: attend upon, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon's children wriggled their tails violently was called Bạch Long Vỹ island (Bạch: white, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail). Before the 20th century, the island used to be called "Vô Thủy" which means "no water" since there was no water source on the island [2].

According to Li Dechao, before the 1950s, Nightingale Island (Yeying Is.; Chinese: 夜鶯島; Pinyin: Yèyīng Dǎo) is the former toponym of Bạch Long Vĩ Island.[1][2] And Fushui Isle (Chinese character: 浮水洲; Pinyin: Fúshǔi Zhōu; Vietnamese:"Phù Thủy Châu" meaning "pearl floating on water".) is the name used among both Danzhou Hainan Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.[2]

Bach Long Vi sits 58 meters above sea level, and is a plateau. There are no other significant exposed land masses within 75 km of the island.

On the tectonic- structure framework, Bach Long Vi island located on a local uplifted blocks of northeast – southwest direction belonging to the northwest flank of the Song Hong Cenozoic sedimentary basin, closed by the east with the basin of Northern Gulf of Tonkin. Island is composed of sedimentary rocks of sandstone, siltstone and claystone from Phu Thuy Chau Formation of Oligocene age and thickness of about 200m; and Hoa Mi Formation of middle Miocene – Pliocene and thickness about 55 - 60m.[3]

Historically, before the 20th century, Bach Long Vi island was not inhabited due to the lack of water resource.[4]

In 1887, a convention between China (Qing Dynasty) and France made Qing government ceded the island to French Indochina (Annam Protectorate).[5] However, this was not an acceptable result for China. In the contemporary published map of People's Republic of China and other nations, this island still remained a part of China (Goode's World Atlas, Rand McNally, 1933). Besides, some foreign scholars regarded this island had been China's territory at least to 1950.[6]

During the World War II, Japanese army forced the French out of Indochina and seized the island.

In 1949, the Chinese Communist won the Chinese Civil War against the Chiang Kai-shek's army.

In 1955 the People's Republic of China drove the Chiang Kai-shek's army away and seized the island.[4]

On January 16, 1957, China's government transferred the island to North Vietnam's government.[4] On that day, the Prime Minister of Vietnam signed Decree number 49/Ttg which stipulated that Bạch Long Vĩ island is a “Xã” (village) and belongs to Haiphong City. That year a fish farm co-operative (Hợp tác xã Nông ngư), which had 93 workers and 22 hectares of land and 13 ships, was established in this island.[4]

On December 9, 1992, Vietnamese government signed the Decree Number 15/NĐ/CP which stipulated that Bạch Long Vĩ island is a district which belongs to the city of Hai Phong.

In the convention on Gulf of Tonkin signed between the Vietnamese government and the Chinese government, China respects the Vietnamese sovereignty over the island and there is no dispute over the island[7]

The core issue to be settled in the Gulf of Tonkin is which principle should be used in order to divide the Gulf. In this context, the impact of islands is of crucial importance and, in particular, the Vietnamese controlled Bach Long Vi Island. The first question is whether or not it qualifies as an island according to the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (1982 UNCLOS). If it does impact on the tracing of a line of equidistance if this principle is applied in the Gulf of Tonkin. Logically, Vietnam would take the position that Bach Long Vi Island should have its full impact in any agreement on how to divide the Gulf. On the other hand, China has an interest in minimising the impact that the Island would have on any agreed delimitation. This could be done by, either arguing that Bach Long Vi is not an island in accordance with the provisions of 1982 UNCLOS or, by arguing that its impact should be minimised and possibly even be disregarded. For China to argue that it is not an island would be counterproductive as China has earlier controlled the island and has claimed that the island was inhabited before it was handed-over to Vietnam in the late 1950s.

(The Management of the Border Disputes Between China and Vietnam and its Regional Implications by Assoc.Prof.Ramses Amer, Co-ordinator, South-East Asia Program (SEAP), Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, and Senior Research Adviser, Department of Research Co-operation-SAREC, Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), October 2000)

Wildlife and biodiversity[edit]
The island is home to several species of migratory birds, including storks, turtle doves, drongos and swamphens. Local Vietnamese authorities have programs in place to protect these birds during their migratory season.

The plants and animals have been discovered on the island and the waters around the island, including 1,490 species total. Of these, 367 species of terrestrial plants; 17 species of mangroves; 227 species of marine phytoplankton; 65 species of seaweed; 1 species of seagrass; 110 species of marine zooplankton; 125 benthic species; 94 coral species; 451 species of marine fish; groups of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles including 45 species. Bach Long Vi Island and the waters around the island have listed 28 species of rare, threatened and endangered species, including two species of terrestrial plants, industry Magnolia (Magnolia), 11 species of Coelenterata, 7 Molluscan species and 8 species of Vertebrate [3]. Marine vertebrates include rorqual whales.[8]

Conservation issues[edit]
Due to its distance from the mainland, Bach Long Vi is used as a base for offshore fishing. The marine resources in the immediate vicinity of the island are subject to over-harvesting and destructive fishing practices.

Tran Duc Thanh (eds) et al. Nature and environment of Bach Long Vi island -sea. In Vietnamese. (2013) [9]

Tuần Châu

Tuần Châu
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tuần Châu
Tuần Châu.jpg
Scenery on Tuần Châu island
Tuần Châu is located in Vietnam Tuần ChâuTuần Châu
Location Hạ Long Bay
Coordinates 20.931076°N 106.986580°ECoordinates: 20.931076°N 106.986580°E
Area 2.3 km2 (0.89 sq mi)
Province Quảng Ninh Province
City Hạ Long
Population 1500
Pop. density 681.82 /km2 (1,765.91 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Vietnamese people
Tuần Châu 2.jpg
Tuần Châu is a schist island on the southwest side of Hạ Long City in Vietnam.

Contents  [hide]
1 Overview
2 Etymology
3 Location
4 History
5 Tourism
5.1 The Marina
6 See also
Covered by pine forests, Tuần Châu island has an area of 2.2 km² and to the east and south are two man-made beaches endowed with very white, fine sand. Nowadays, Tuần Châu Island is one of the most touristic destinations in Hạ Long.

In the feudal time, the royal army set up a guard station here to patrol and defend the borderland. The name of Tuần Châu is the combination between ‘linh tuan’ (the patrolman) and ‘tri chau’ (district chief).

Tuần Châu is located an important position at the entrance of the waterway system of Thăng Long, Bặch Đằng and Vân Ðồn.

The island has many archaeological sites pertaining to the ancient Hạ Long culture from 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. Because of its location, the royal army set up a guard station here to patrol and defend the borderland. The Office of Feudal Customs was also installed there. President Hồ Chí Minh used to spend holidays there, in an octagonal house that has now become a memorial site.

Tuần Châu Island can be reached via the 2-km cement road from the mainland. The construction of this road was undertook by Tuan Chau 5-star yacht company and officially started on February 28, 1998. Investments have been poured into the island to turn it into a modern tourist resort. It includes attractions such as the dolphin, sea lion, and performing-seal club, animal circus club, golf course, cultural-sports center, beach, rural market, ornamental fish lake, villas in Hill 1 and Hill 2, guesthouses, five 80-room villas by the beach. The ensemble of five restaurants and one round house built in the pagoda motif can serve up to 500 guests at the same time.

From 2014, there is another way to reach Tuan Chau Island from Hanoi that is directed flight from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Island, Halong Bay by seaplane of Hai Au Aviation. The flight can allows you to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the thousands of limestone karsts jutting up from the jade green waters and see remote fishing villages before landing at Tuan Chau Island Marina.[1]

The Marina[edit]
The pier of Tuần Châu island hosts only 10% of all boat companies cruising on Halong bay and provides cruisers with cafés, souvenir shops, and daily entertainment shows with young local dancers performing modern dances. Some boat companies also offer private lounges for their passengers awaiting boarding time. Tuần Châu island is at present constructing a much larger marina integrated in a touristic resort that should be completed in years to come.

List of cruise companies sailing from Tuần Châu pier
Paradise Cruises
V'Spirit Cruise
Aphrodite Cruises
Golden Cruise
Halong Phoenix Cruiser
Image Halong
Bhaya - Au Co
In 2004, Miss Vietnam was held there. In 2005, Tuần Châu was where "Vietnam: The Island of Mr. Sang" episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations was filmed.

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Fringed with white-sand beaches and with large tracts still cloaked in dense tropical jungle, Phu Quoc rapidly morphed from a sleepy island backwater to a must-visit beach escape for Western expats and sun-seeking tourists. Beyond the resorts lining Long Beach, rapid development beginning on the east coast and mega resorts in sight of Sao Beach, there's still ample room for exploration and escaping the sometimes littered waters. Dive the reefs, kayak in the bays, eat up the back-road kilometres on a motorbike or just lounge on the beach, followed by a massage and a fresh seafood dinner.
Phu Quoc is not really part of the Mekong Delta and its rice production – the most famous, and valuable, crop is black pepper. Yet the islanders here have traditionally earned their living from the sea, and its claim to fame across Vietnam is the production of high-quality fish sauce (nuoc mam).

Sao Beach
With picture-perfect white sand, the delightful curve of beautiful Sao Beach bends out alongside a sea of mineral-water clarity just a few kilometres from An Thoi, the main shipping port at the southern tip of the i…
An Thoi Islands
Just off the southern tip of Phu Quoc, these 15 islands and islets are a paradise of white sand and blue waters. They can be visited by chartered boat for a fine day of sightseeing, fishing, swimming and snorkelling…
Long Beach
Long Beach is draped invitingly along the west coast from Duong Dong almost to An Thoi port. Development concentrates in the north near Duong Dong, where the recliners and rattan umbrellas of the various resorts rul…

Fish Sauce Factory
The distillery of Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh is the largest of Phu Quoc’s fish-sauce makers, a short walk from the market in Duong Dong. At first glance, the giant wooden vats may make you think you’ve arrived for a wine t…

Duong Dong
The island’s main town and chief fishing port on the central west coast is a tangle of budget hotels catering to domestic tourists (though foreigners are allowed), streetside stalls, bars and shops. The old bridge i…
Phu Quoc Prison
Not far from Sao Beach in the south of the island, Phu Quoc's notorious old prison, built by the French in the late 1940s, contains a small museum that narrates (in English) the gruesome history of the jail. Much of…
Ho Quoc Pagoda
On a remote stretch of coastal road 10km north of Sao Beach, climb the stairs for one of the best views from any temple in Vietnam – blue sky and the water off Bai Dam Beach frame the temple-gate eaves. Behind you, …
Coi Nguon Museum
With displays on Vietnamese medicines, Stone Age tools, a boatful of barnacle-encrusted ceramics, oddly compelling shell-covered furniture and a small room devoted to the island prison, this dusty private museum is …
Dinh Cau Temple
This combination temple and lighthouse was built in 1937 to honour Thien Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, who provides protection for sailors and fishers. Sometimes called a ‘castle’, or 'rock temple' for the rocky outc…
Ong Lan Beach
Ong Lan Beach has a series of sandy bays sheltered by rocky headlands. Several midrange resorts in this area service those wanting to get away from everything (apart from the comfort of said resorts). The upmarket b…
Thom Beach
The road from Dai Beach to Thom Beach via Ganh Dau is very beautiful, passing through dense forest with tantalising glimpses of the coast below.
Phu Quoc National Park
About 90% of Phu Quoc is forested and the trees and adjoining marine environment enjoy official protection. This is the last large stand of forest in the south, and in 2010 the park was declared a Unesco Biosphere R…
Vung Bau Beach
Appealing northern beach reachable via the coastal road. The waves are rough and it's a little neglected with rubbish in parts, but it means that you can have the beach without the crowds. The few resorts here have …
Suoi Tranh
Compared with the waterlogged Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc has very little surface moisture, but there are several springs originating in the hills. The most accessible of these is four-metre high Suoi Tranh; look for the…
Suoi Da Ban
Suoi Da Ban is a white-water creek tumbling across some attractive large granite boulders. There are deep pools and it’s nice enough for a dip. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent.For the falls, the best months to vi…

Cua Can Beach
The most accessible of the northern beaches, Cua Can is about 11km from Duong Dong. It remains mercifully quiet during the week, but can get busy at weekends. A ride through the villages around Cua Can is interestin…
Dai Beach
A relatively isolated northern beach that retains its remote tropical charm

Hai Tac Island (Pirate Island), Vietnam

You’ve probably seen it in the background of countless war movies, but nothing can prepare you for the epic beauty of Vietnam. While it isn’t my favorite country in the world, it is very beautiful and filled with delicious food – there is no denying that. From the natural beauty of Sam Mountain and Halong Bay to the man-made artistry of the sacred temples and pagodas to the rice terraces and beaches, Vietnam has a lot to offer travelers. The country has suffered a long dark history of colonialism, communism, war, and poverty. You cannot escape learning about the horrid history whose effects are still visible on the faces, bodies the locals even today. Like India, many travelers either love or hate it here. Admittedly, it’s a hard country to travel through but despite the challenges you’ll find a very interesting and visually pleasing place to visit.

Hai Tac

Ten nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam, Hai Tac (Pirate Island) flies under the radar. Hundreds of tourists chug past this archipelago of 16 islands and islets on their way to Phu Quoc island, yet scant few foreigners have stepped onto its shores – and we’re wondering why. Getting off the beaten track is as easy as taking the cheap, daily ferry from Ha Tien on the mainland. In just over an hour you’ll be swimming in water as smooth and clear as glass, exploring deserted beaches that ring the entire island and feasting on fresh seafood before retiring to a hammock strung between palms.
Down to onward travel 

Important: As of late 2016 we’ve been advised by a traveller that ferry operators in Ha Tien are not currently allowing foreigners to get on a boat to Hai Tac. Please check the situation on the ground before planning to head to the island.

Officially named Tien Hai Commune, Hai Tac’s name, which means “pirate”, originates from a colourful history. Centuries ago the archipelago was a pirate hideaway, a notoriously dangerous area for commercial boats as gangs plundered this trade route between Asia and Europe (it was marked “Ile de Pirates” on French colonial maps). Legends about buried treasure and secret maps still abound. Today you won’t find ruthless pirates and chests of gold, only fishermen and simple villages. Their treasure is the daily haul of fish and the island’s natural riches.

Crowded Bai Bac beach. Photo taken in or around Hai Tac, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.
Crowded Bai Bac beach. Photo: Cindy Fan
The largest island Hon Dac (Dac Island), which is confusingly also referred to as Tien Hai, Hon Tre, Hon Tre Lon or Hai Tac, is where most of the small population lives. The v-shaped island can be visited as a great daytrip from Ha Tien (a ferry arrives in the morning, returns back in the late afternoon), or the more adventurous can stay overnight. Tourist infrastructure here is very rudimentary so there are no guesthouses, just super basic rooms for let in people’s homes. Power shuts off at 23:00 and returns at 06:00, though a lucky few can afford generators (tip: bring a torch). There’s also not a stitch of English spoken.

Hai Tac has received some attention in Vietnamese media so it draws a small number of domestic day-trippers and weekenders. We were the only foreigners on board, while there were about six or seven small groups and families armed with coolers of beer and picnic snacks.

The island is tiny and very easy to explore. A single seven kilometre road leads all around the edge of the coast — it’s impossible to get lost. Once you arrive to the port/main village on the south side, you can rent a motorbike from a local or get someone to drive you around, a good way to inject some money into the community. We rented one for 120,000 dong. Alternatively, you can try renting a motorbike or bicycle in Ha Tien and bring it on the ferry for 30,000 dong. Another option to get around is the minivan marked Dung Kieu (T: 01668 766 744) which we saw waiting at the pier. For 20,000 dong, the shared shuttle takes you to the stone marker that marks the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, then the beach at Thuan Phat before finally returning you to the pier in time for the afternoon ferry back. Add 10,000 dong if you want to add the journey up to the radar station/military post for the view.

Arrival. Photo taken in or around Hai Tac, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.
Arrival. Photo: Cindy Fan
Half a kilometre west of the pier (head left) is Bai Nam beach, a finger of land that juts out and forms a cove of calm, clear and far reaching shallow waters. A large chunk of the day-trippers head here since it is walking distance and the place is set up for enjoyment. Minh Luan has hammocks, a concrete pad for your picnic/barbecue and you can order a seafood feast. After exploring the whole island we spent our last few hours swimming here and sharing lunch with two Vietnamese travellers we met on the boat. We feasted on the catch of the day: a large plate of delicious fried fish, stir-fried squid, steamed rice, grilled bananas and a couple of beers, the whole spread only 200,000 dong.

Note to women: swimsuits on the beach are perfectly acceptable but you’ll find most Vietnamese women wearing t-shirts and shorts into the water for sun protection and a little modesty. Anything excessively skimpy may draw some side-glances. If you’re riding around on a motorbike cover up.

If you want to stay overnight, Minh Luan has a roughly constructed hut with tile floor and reed and bamboo lattice walls. There’s a padlock for the door but that’s more of a deterrent as the door or wall could easily be kicked in. Simple mats are provided but no mosquito net. There’s an outhouse which is essentially a reed hut over the water with a squat toilet hole in the concrete floor. The shower house looks like a brand new addition. It has a couple of concrete stalls with convenient hooks, a mirror and a large bucket to rinse off. It’s 60,000 dong a night. T: (0168) 760 8037; (077) 3855 893.

From Minh Luan the road continues along the north shore. The road abuts the sea (the Gulf of Thailand to be exact) and it’s a lovely, scenic drive. Stop anywhere, find a path through the thick brush and you’ll find empty, deserted beach and more beautiful blue.

Bai Nam: so shallow you could walk on water. Photo taken in or around Hai Tac, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.
Bai Nam: so shallow you could walk on water. Photo: Cindy Fan
In the centre of the north shore, at the bottom point of the v-shape, is quiet, picturesque Bai Bac beach. Here you’ll find more clear-calm-blue-water-bliss and a great low-key spot. Just across the road is 7 Chol, a small restaurant/homestay. Get a fresh coconut for 10,000 dong or park your carcass in one of the hammocks – they have more hammocks than the building looks like it can support.

The small room they have available is not charming but it is clean, more private and secure than Minh Luan. You get your own lockable entrance, a raised tiled concrete platform as a bed, with a reed mat, thin pillow and mosquito net. We can’t imagine a tile bed is very comfortable so if you happen to be travelling with camping mattress, lucky you. You do get a fan and a light bulb, available until the power on the island is shut off at night. On the plus side, you are practically beachfront. Costs 50,000 dong a night. T: (097) 5725 382; (091) 8612 734.

Just down the road is what may be the prettiest beach of the island. The palm lined white sand is kept relatively clean — unfortunately you’ll notice elsewhere on the island that rubbish is becoming an issue. The restaurant Thuan Phat provides hammocks and seafood meals. They don’t have rooms for let but they allow people to sleep outside in the hammocks for 40,000 dong. The woman of the house assured us it was safe. Use your judgement.

Just after Thuan Phat is a steep road leading up to the top. It’s a radar station/military post to keep a hawk eye on Vietnamese waters. No doubt it has a stunning view of all the Hai Tac islands and Cambodia just yonder. We went up but as an individual traveller we weren’t allowed to enter. We later discovered that the Dung Kieu shuttle van included it as an option on their trip around the island, for an extra 10,000 dong.

Bai Nam hammock time. Photo taken in or around Hai Tac, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.
Bai Nam hammock time. Photo: Cindy Fan
Continuing on, the road wraps around the eastern shore and you are back in the village which runs all along southern coast and into the centre. Though a sleepy place, it’s worth taking a stroll to see daily life. The locals obviously don’t have much and work hard and there’s always something to be done. Boats return in the morning after a long night of fishing. The catch is unloaded, weighed and packed for the mainland. Fish and squid are laid out to dry. Kids play and wave as women patiently untangle and mend the nets, an endless, tedious but necessary task, pausing from their work to give a friendly smile.

Staying in the village gives you (literally speaking) more solid accommodation options. Homes here are modern buildings. Ngoc Nhanh is at the east end of the village. It’s a room within a home which means it’s a bit more secure and they do have a generator so you could run the fan after the island power shuts off at 23:00. It’s a regular mattress on the floor for 60,000 dong. There’s a sign out front, look for the mint green house. T: (0127) 4206 490; (098) 574 445.

On the west end of the village is Minh Anh. The large room is reminiscent of an incarceration facility but at least you get a mattress on the floor, a fan and a window. The benefit in staying here is that you’re close to both Bai Bac beach and the pier. Cost for two people is 150,000 dong. T: (0913) 181 144

Day-trippers slowly make their way back to the pier 30 minutes before departure. Enjoy a sweet, strong cup of ice coffee to wake yourself up from the sun-drunk post-hammock-nap grogginess. Or don’t get out of your hammock at all. We’ve listed several options that will do for a night or two giving you more time to hang out and explore – a couple of white sand fringed islets lie close-by. Hire a boat to take you over to look for buried treasure.

Other islands
For a boat to explore the other islands, Huong Xua (T: 01694 199 9922) quoted us 200,000 dong per person. Include a seafood lunch for an additional 100,000 dong per person.

River Hotel has apparently developed one of the Hai Tac islands with tourist facilities — we say apparently because we discovered this after we returned from Hon Doc and therefore did not visit the island, nor could we get more information from the hotel staff beyond what was in the brochure we found at Reception. Tre Vinh island is the white sand fringed banana-shaped island just half a kilometre off the southwest coast of the main island Hon Dac, a short boat ride between the two. The brochure states that there are facilities such as picnic huts, a restaurant, two villas, two beaches at the top of the island and a reef. The price for their private boat from Ha Tien makes it very expensive unless you have a large group. The price for an eight-seater boat is 5,000,000 dong, a 41-seater boat is 6,000,000 dong, the journey taking 35 minutes. The island entrance fee is 100,000 dong per person.

The fruits from a long night at sea. Photo taken in or around Hai Tac, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.
The fruits from a long night at sea. Photo: Cindy Fan
The more economical way would be to take the regular ferry from Ha Tien to Hon Doc, then hire a local boat to take you across. We were quoted 40,000 dong. It’s also possible to stay overnight on the island. A mosquito net hammock is 179,000 dong per person, a two-person tent is 450,000 dong and the villa is 1,490,000 dong/two people. The rate is supposed to include breakfast. Again, we have not visited the island so if you’re interested in a stay, it’s best to check with River Hotel beforehand and make a reservation. It seems the island was set up for group and family outings but given how poorly it is advertised, we doubt you’d encounter other people.

River Hotel is the prominent cruise ship shaped building located on the Ha Tien river front, directly across from the pier. Lo B3 TTTM Tran Hau, Binh San Ward; T: (077) 3955 888 F: (077) 3956 777;

From Ha Tien pier (the same pier where boats to Phu Quoc depart), DNTN Tau Khach Huong Xua company operates two departures daily though we were told the early morning departure (and subsequent return trip) depends on demand. We had no problem with our morning departure — it was quite full and left on time.

Get to the pier at least 20 minutes before departure.

The boat should have a sign “Ha Tien – Tien Hai” (Tien Hai is the official name for the group of islands). First ferry departs at 08:30, returns at 15:30. Second ferry departs at 14:30, returns at 09:30 the following day. The journey takes a little over an hour. One-way ticket costs 40,000 dong, a motorbike 30,000 dong. The fare is collected on board.

The boat will not likely run in bad weather. Dry season lasts from November to April. Peak tourist season is December to February, Tet holiday and Vietnamese summer holiday from June to August. Rainy season lasts from May to October, during which time seas can be rough.

There is no regular boat service between Tien Hai and Phu Quoc.


Long and thin, the S-shaped country, Vietnam encompasses a stunning array of cities, beaches, mountains, rivers, temples and more, making it a hugely rewarding honeymoon destination for couples looking for a holiday like no other. From its gorgeous landscapes to its fascinating history and culture, there's a lot for couples to discover in Vietnam. It's fairly easy to say then that anyone considering a honeymoon holiday to Vietnam won't be disappointed. Whether you're dreaming of a honeymoon on the beach, in a glamorous city or somewhere remote and rugged, www.TravelVietnam.Com handpicked 8 destinations for the perfect post-wedding getaway.
1+2. Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
Two major cities are the perfect start and end points, both being rich with high-end hotels and restaurants, fascinating museums and cultural diversions. Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital, an elegant blend of French architecture, royal legacies and artisan influences – beautiful to wander around, and a mecca for shopping. While Ho Chi Minh City, known as Saigon to the locals, this Southern Vietnamese city showcases a mix of vibrant Asian culture and colonial European elegance. Sweeping, tree-lined boulevards of boutiques run in to the street-stall-lined thoroughfares of a foodie’s paradise.
Hanoi Romantic1
3. Halong Bay
A perfect way to enjoy your honeymoon in Vietnam is to sail along the waters of Halong Bay. As you cruise along, enjoy the panorama of beautiful forested limestone cliff formation, and emerald waters along the way. Now, you can reach to Halong Bay much faster and closer than in the past by traveling on the Vietnam’s most modern express way (1,5 hours) and enjoy your wonderful relaxation on a five star cruise.
Halong Romantic1

4. Hoian
A popular getaway destination, known for its quaint village atmosphere complete with art galleries, cheap tailors and numerous bars and restaurants. Best to spend your romantic honeymoon here away from the bustling city traffics. Everything here is moving at a very slow pace, the purpose is for you to slow down your pace as well, to enjoy every little moment of your experience here. Additionally, one way to experience the real culture is food, so why don’t take a cooking class and know more the hidden secret behind each kind of dish. In the photo: A romantic rendezvous on a rooftop cafe overlooking the ancient town of Hoian.
Hoian Romantic1
5. Danang
Close to the charming Hoi An and the Imperial capital of Hue, Danang is home to some of the country's most beautiful and isolated beaches, including My Khe, Non Nuoc, Bac My An, Nam O, Son Tra Peninsula… Once listed in the US Forbes Magazine as one of the 6 most beautiful beaches in the world, it is an idyllic beach with smooth sand and a gentle slope. Five-star resorts along the coast will be the ideal paradise for newly married couples to create a bunch of beautiful memories. Located right in such an advantageous position, you can both enjoy the sparkling beauty of the city while enjoying fresh seafood. Now you can get in/ depart Danang by a direct international flight from/ to Siem Reap, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Busan, Taiwan, Beijing etc.
Danang Romantic2
6. Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island is a charming island known for its palm-fringed land and white sandy beaches. Phu Quoc is a wonderfully romantic destination for couples, an island paradise where the peace is only broken by the repetitive breaking of the waves on the beach before falling asleep at night. This is a great escape to paradise; progress hasn’t spoiled the landscape or the simple fishing villages dotted around the island but has allowed cocoons of luxury where the simple life can be combined with luxurious accommodation, wonderful food, and a beautiful and relaxing environment. The majority of Phu Quoc Island is dedicated to National Park and protected marine environment, providing a memorable experience, with plenty of exciting activities and places to visit to keep you and your loved one entertained during your stay. You do not need to obtain Vietnam Visa if you travel on a direct international flight to Phu Quoc – and you just stay on this paradise island for up to 30 days.
PhuQuoc Romantic1
7. Vinh Hy Bay
Vinh Hy Bay, Vietnam’s "secret" southeastern shores, is a small inlet dotted with fishing vessels and woven coracle. Vinh Hy is not yet on the foreign tourist map but its time in the sun will come. Nestled beside the 24,000-hectare Nui Chua National Park, a dramatic coastal promontory that looms wild and beautiful from the clear sparkling blues of the East Sea, this is as stunning a stretch of coastline as you could hope to find in South-East Asia. Sun bears, monkeys and barking deer inhabit its forests, as do dozens of bird species. Sea turtles nest in its protected marine conservation zone. In the sunlight, the bay looks like a silver mirror surrounded by strips of white sand and by mountains. Apart from swimming, you can go diving to see ocean creatures and coral reefs of diverse shapes, sizes and colors and climb the mountains to explore the forests and bathe in the springs. This is the pristine Vietnam holiday of your dreams.
Vinh Hy Romantic1
8. Dalat – The City of Love
Known as "Le Petit Paris" by the early builders and residents of this hillside resort town, Dalat is still a luxury retreat for city dwellers and tourists tired out from trudging along sultry coastal Vietnam. It is definitely an ideal hideaway place for couples to stroll hand in hand on streets lined with trees, contemplating classic attractiveness of French colonial villas and poetic beauty of the valley of Love. Don’t forget to explore Vietnam’s most romantic ethnic minority village: Cu Lan, which looks like a fairyland among a pristine and romantic scenery, a range of mountains and hills, and charming valleys and waterfalls.

Da lat Romantic1


The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam contains the oldest karst system in Asia, between 400-450 million years old. Hang Son Doong (Son Doong Cave) itself is relatively young, with the analysis of sediment dating it to be only 3 million years old.

Formed on the edge of a fault zone, Hang Son Doong has been carved out by the mighty Rao Thuong River as it erodes away the limestone, forming the enormous tunnel beneath the Annamite Mountains. Giant sinkholes, known as dolines, have collapsed sometime up to 300’000 years ago, creating massive openings to the outside world. Cave pearls the size of baseballs have been formed by water dropping from the ceiling.
Son Doong Cave is in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. Only recently explored in 2009-2010 by the British Cave Research Association, the cave has only been open to the public since 2013.

Less people have seen the inside of Son Doong Cave than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest. Join us on this otherworldly expedition and become one of the lucky few who have had the life changing experience of exploring the world’s largest cave.

Imagine trekking straight into the depths of the world’s largest cave on an expedition unlike any other. A cave so massive that a 747 could fly through its largest cavern. A space so mesmerising that it forces you to question whether you are still on this planet at all. Foreign landscapes found nowhere else, enormous stalagmites rising from the ground and statuesque stalactites hanging from the ceiling like an alien species. Jungles emerge from inside the cave itself, a scene so surreal that you have to see it to believe it. Misty clouds envelop the whole scene, a result of the cave’s own localised weather system. Passages adorned with ancient fossils offer evidence of the millions of years that have passed on this Earth.

As you approach the jungle just outside the entrance, the rush of cool wind that cascades out brings to life everything inside of you. Hazy, cold and exhilarating, it is apparent that there’s something magical waiting just beyond the opening to the cave.

Son Doong Cave Vietnam
How was Son Doong Cave first discovered?
From an early age, local man Ho Khanh used to spend weeks on end trekking and maneuvering his way through the jungles of the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, searching for food and timber to earn a modest income.

In 1990 while out on a hunting mission, Ho Khanh stumbled across an opening in a limestone cliff and moved forward to investigate. As he approached he noticed clouds billowing out of the entrance, and could hear the sounds of a river raging from somewhere inside the cave.

When he could feel a strong wind also blowing out from the cave, he decided to move on without further inspection. By the time he had returned to his home a few days later, he had forgotten its exact location and thought no more of it.

At the same time two members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), Howard and Deb Limbert, were basing themselves in Phong Nha to conduct exploratory cave expeditions in the area. While chatting with Ho Khanh one day, he mentioned to the caving experts that he had found a cave with clouds and a river inside. Howard and Deb were intrigued and urged Ho Khanh to try and rediscover the cave. After many failed attempts, they began to think this elusive cavern might remain lost in the jungle forever more.

In 2008 while out on another food gathering trip, Ho Khanh found the mysterious opening again and studiously took note of the path on how to get there. In 2009 he led Howard, Deb and a team of professionals back to the cave for the first expedition to enter what would later become known as Hang Son Doong, or "Mountain River Cave".

Stream in Son Doong
How Big is Son Doong Cave?
The first expedition had been halted by an 80m high calcite barrier, which was jokingly dubbed the "Great Wall Of Vietnam". It wasn’t until their second expedition in 2010, when the Great Wall was finally climbed and the end of the passage was found, that Hang Son Doong was determined to be the largest cave in the world.

At over 5km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide, Son Doong is large enough to house an entire New York City block, complete with 40 story skyscrapers. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic metres, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest ever encountered.

Ban Doong Ethnic Village
To reach Hang Son Doong, adventurers must first pass through the Ban Doong ethnic minority village. The only village located inside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, less than 40 people makes up the population of Ban Doong.

Life is tough for the minority people here, due to their isolation from the outside world. Access is only possible by foot, and the dense jungles surrounding Ban Doong prohibit the cultivation of most crops. The discovery of Hang Son Doong and the subsequent expeditions that now pass through the village have seen new opportunities arise for the community, who now can earn extra income by working closely with Oxalis to protect the conservation of the area.

For many people, being able to visit Ban Doong and meet its welcoming villagers becomes a highlight of their trip. Ban Doong offers a view of way of life that has been unchanged for centuries.

Doong Village
Tours & Packages
Travel Vietnam cooperates with Oxalis Adventure Tours, which headquartered in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, made up of a professional team of experts on cave research, safety, tourism and sustainable development, to provide a unique experience for those seeking to explore remote jungle, wild river caves, and quench their thirst for adventure whilst in Quang Binh Vietnam. Tours & Expeditions of Son Doong Cave are as below:
- Son Doong Cave Expedition 4D3N
- Son Doong Photography Tour 4D3N
- Tu Lan Expedition 4D3N
- Hang Va Expedition 2D1N
- Hang Tien Endeavor 2D1N
- Hang Tien 1-Day Discovery
- Tu Lan Jungle Challenge
- Hang En Adventure Cave Camp
- Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer
- Tu Lan Cave Encounter
- Tu Lan 1-Day Experience

NAM DU ISLAND Paradise, Vietnam

Nam Du Archipelago, around 40 kilometers away from Phu Quoc Island, is becoming an attractive destination for backpackers heading to the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang. This pristine island has 21 islets, 11 islets of which are inhabited, while the others remain completely untouched.

The immense blue sea and sky, imposing mountains erupting amidst the ocean, endless evergreen primeval forests, long stunning beaches and splendid rock cliffs of Nam Du Archipelago in Kien Giang Province have seen it compared to the "New Wonder of the World" - Halong Bay in Quang Ninh Province.

The archipelago stretches over two communes of An Son and Nam Du with a population of 10,000 people working in fishing and sea-related services. Formed from a volcano, it has numerous six-meter creeks which are advantageous for transportation. As it is endowed with high mountains, Nam Du also is suggested as a great spot for offshore fishermen to flee rough storms.

There are two main seasons in Nam Du: dry season (from November to May) and rainy season (from May to October). The rainy season is characterized by rain, and during the peak of this season from July to September, it may have a lot more rain and rough seas. Hence, the best time to visit Nam Du Island is from December to April when the sea is peaceful and turquoise, the temperature is comfortable and the weather is consistent and sunny.

nam du islands
How to get to Nam Du Island
By Plane
You can take a flight from Ho Chi Minh City or Phu Quoc to Rach Gia Airport (Kien Giang Province) and then take a bus or taxi from the airport to Rach Gia wharf to catch a ferry to Nam Du.

Ferry to Nam Du Island from Rach Gia
At the Rach Gia ferry wharf, you can take either a Superdong Speed-boat or Ngoc Thanh Ferry to Nam Du Island. The Superdong Speed-boat is efficient, orderly, air-con and comfortable. Seating is assigned and you get a bottle of water, a refresher towel and entertainment on flat-screen TVs.







Ngoc Thanh

Rach Gia - Nam Du



205,000 VND

145,000 VND

Nam Du - Rach Gia




Rach Gia - Nam Du



210,000 VND

150,000 VND



Nam Du - Rach Gia





Getting Around Nam Du Island
By Boat: To explore the surrounding islands like Hon Lon and visit some beautiful places, you can rent a private boat or join in a group. Find a boat of the local people at the main pier on Hon Lon Island.

By Motorbike: The main road to Hon Lon Island is paved and you can rent a motorbike from your motel/guesthouse for about 150,000 VND – 200,000 VND per day. One of the most memorable things to do in Nam Du island is to ride around the coast at sunset. The scenery is so stunning and the ocean sunset is absolutely gorgeous.

By "Xe om": You can also hire a motorbike taxi driver to visit some of the popular sites on Hon Lon. Sometimes, they will be a tour guide showing what and where you should visit on Nam Du Island.

Almost hotels, gueshouses in Nam Du Island belong to motel and still basic. There are two ways to spend your night on Nam Du Island, rent a hotel’s room or choose homestay with the locals. For those who like experience, you can rent a tent in beach to spend your night. 

The majority of the accommodation options in Nam Du are available on Hon Lon Island. They range from simple guesthouse to motels and price vary from 100,000 VND to 500,000 VND per night. You should check and book a room in advance, especially on the weekends. To enjoy the sound of sea waves with an ocean view, you can book a room in Phuong Vu hotel, outside of Cu Tron town, Kim Yen motel, Thuy Diep motel and Sau Co motel in Hon Lon Island.

Camping on Nam Du Island is also popular for tourists who want to have a special experience. Hon Dau Island is the most suitable beach for overnight cause of coconuts and long sandy beach, price for rent beach is 30,000VND and 40,000VND per night for rent a tent.

humiso bungalow nam du
Key Sites
Hon Lon Island
Hon Lon, also known as Big Island, locally called Cu Tron islet, is Nam Du’s largest island on Nam Du, where you can find the majority of accommodations, restaurants and the ferry dock. Hon Lon Island is famous for its lighthouse, a restricted military zone and  has some stunning beaches: Dat Do Beach, Nhun Beach, Men Beach and Mam Beach. And, Men Beach is the most beautiful one of Nam Du archipelago with green row of coconut, white sands and blue sea.

Pretty lady on Hon Lon - Nam Du

Hon Dau Island
A must-see location is Dau Islet which is 95 percent forest and also boasts shady, picturesque coconut gardens, simple yellow sand beach. Tourists should take a boat trip around the whole archipelago, cruising along Nom Ngoai, Dam, Hang, Moc, and Tre islands’ beautiful rocky beaches. 

Hon Ngang Island
Hon Ngang is the center island of Nam Du, where most of the people live. It takes 30 minutes to get here from Hon Lon by boat. There is no means of transport on this island, you have to walk around to explore the island, visit the pier to see a sea inundated with fishing boats and fish farms for a photo opportunity. Tourists can also rent a room in the local’s guesthouse for an overnight stay.

Hon Mau Island
Mau island is about 2 square kilometers and has a small fishing village with a hundred households. This is famous for beautiful beaches lined with coconut trees and Chuong beach is the best because it is the only real white sand beach. Other beaches are Nam beach, Nom beach, Da Den beach and Da Trang beach. Hon Mau is rapidly expanding to accommodate the tourist surge and there is now a sizable community found on the island that cater to the growing tourism sector.

Hai Bo Dap Island
Hai Bo Dap is an uninhabited island that is surrounded by coral. Most island hopping tours stop here for camping, swimming, snorkeling and fishing. One of the unique features of this island is its natural bridge that connects two islands together to form Hai Bo Dap. This natural sea bridge can only be seen at low tide.

What to explore at Nam Du Island
Trekking and Hiking
For people who love some sport activities, trekking to Nhum Beach is a great experience, you need to hike along a small trail, pass the towns fresh water supply source, and down through a densely forested area teeming with wildlife. The trail eventually leads to a rocky beach and the best time to hike this trail is before sunrise.

Nam Du archipelago is plentiful marine life and coral reefs and Hon Dau Island is a perfect destination for diving, snorkeling that offers you a discovery of the colorful world of wonderful coral reefs. You can snorkel from shore, join a tour, or charter your own boat and don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and your swimming goggles.

Snorkeling in nam du
Sunrises and sunsets
Nam Du’s ocean sunrises and sunsets are some of the best you will ever see in Vietnam and since the island is so small you can actually watch from a single location. The pier at Hon Lon Island is a perfect spot to watch the sunrise right behind Hon Dau Island. Be sure to keep an eye out above to spot the few hawks in the area. Meanwhile, sunset along the coastal road on Hon Lon Island is breathtaking. Stop anywhere along this road and watch an amazing ocean sunset.

Fishing and foraging on Nam Du
You can either fish from the main pier, commission a small boat, or rent a boat. There are also night squid and baby octopus fishing excursions that may be of interest to you. You can also forage for your own food as all the Nam Du Island are blessed with many wild edibles and seafood such as sea snails, oysters, clams and sea urchins.

Nam Du Lighthouse
Nam Du Lighthouse is located on the top of Hon Lon Island, 300 meters above the sea level and it is considered to be the highest lighthouse in all of Vietnam. With this height, tourists can see the most beautiful panorama of Nam Du island. However, it is a restricted military zone and most visitors to Nam Du will not be able to visit it without "tipping" someone or being invited by the military.

Temples and pagodas
There are two colorful temples called Mieu Ba Chua Xu and Ngu Thanh Mieu. Mieu Ba Chua Xu is near Tret Beach having a beautiful statue of Ba. Ngu Thanh Mieu is near Bai Ngu, worships whales and you can see their bones on display.

Nam Du Island discovery tour
Discover the Nam Du archipelago by joining a full or half day tour of the Nam Du islands. The itinerary for these tours consists of visiting the popular islands, swimming at calm bays, snorkeling in areas that have good coral, and visiting Nam Du’s best beaches. There are 2 tours available, a full day tour or half day tour so you should consider with your schedule.

Speacial Foods on Nam Du Island
Nam Du Island specialty dish is Blue bonefish or "Xuong Xanh", as this green colored fish is quite abundant in and around the Gulf of Thailand. It is of served grilled or a dried version is fried.

Grilled scallop with fat and onion
Scallops are a popular seafood with delicious ivory flesh without toughness, suitable for both fried and roasted, and is one of the materials to be processed into a variety of delicious and nutritious dishes such as: fried scallop with salt and pepper, grilled scallop with fat and union.

scallop seafood in nam du
Steamed squid with ginger
During the breeding season, squids contain many eggs, for more than 70% of a squid. With Squid eggs, you can make many a tasty dishes like: fried squid eggs with chili fried ruffled squid, but the most striking is still steamed squid with ginger.

Permits for Foreigners 
Nam Du is a popular tourist attraction among Vietnamese people. Foreigners are only allowed on the island with a permit. Foreigners need a valid passport, visa, residence papers and “permits for entry into maritime boundary areas issued by provincial-level public security departments” to go to Nam Du Island. However, Nam Du is off limits to foreigners because Nam Du businesses cater to mainly “package tourists and tour group” and the island has reached capacity. 

halong bay hotels

Hạ Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long, IPA: [vînˀ hâːˀ lawŋm] (About this sound listen)) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.

Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets.[1] The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.[2] The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem.[3] Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species[4] and 60 endemic faunal species.[5]

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000–7000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7000–5000 BC[6] and the Hạ Long culture 5,000–3,500 years ago.[7] Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mount, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy.[7]

500 years ago, Nguyễn Trãi praised the beauty of Hạ Long Bay in his verse Lộ nhập Vân Đồn, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky".[8] In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of North Vietnam listed Hạ Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication.[9] In 1994, the core zone of Hạ Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site according to Criterion VII, and listed for a second time according to Criterion VIII.[10]

Contents  [hide]
1 Etymology
2 Overview
2.1 Location
2.2 Climate
3 History
3.1 Soi Nhụ culture (16,000–5000 BC)
3.2 Cái Bèo culture (5000–3000 BC)
3.3 Feudal period
4 Geology and geomorphology
4.1 History of tectonics
4.2 Karst geomorphology value
4.3 Timeline of geologic evolution
5 Ecology
5.1 Environmental damage
6 Awards and designations
7 In literature
7.1 Ancient tales
8 Gallery
9 See also
10 References
11 External links
The name Hạ Long is derived from the Sino-Vietnamese 下龍, meaning "descending dragon".

Before 19th century, the name Halong Bay had not been recorded in the old books of the country. It has been called An Bang, Luc Thuy, Van Don... Late 19th century, the name Halong Bay has appeared on the Maritime map of France. "Haiphong News" published in French, has reported: " Dragon appears on Halong Bay".

According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders. To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. Under magics, numerous rock mountains abruptly appeared on the sea, ahead of invaders' ships; the forward ships struck the rocks and each other. After winning the battle, the dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth, and then decided to live in this bay. The place where the mother dragon descended was named Hạ Long, the place where the dragon's children attended upon their mother was called Bái Tử Long island (Bái: attend upon, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon's children wriggled their tails violently was called Bạch Long Vỹ island (Bạch: white-color of the foam made when Dragon's children wriggled, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail), present day Trà Cổ peninsula, Móng Cái.[11]


Thien Cung grotto

Floating fishing village

Fisherman's house, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 [12] limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Đầu Gỗ (Wooden stakes cave) is the largest grotto in the Hạ Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th-century French graffiti). There are two bigger islands, Tuần Châu and Cát Bà, that have permanent inhabitants, as well as tourist facilities including hotels and beaches. There are a number of beautiful beaches on the smaller islands.

A community of around 1,600 people live on Hạ Long Bay in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses and are sustained through fishing and marine aquaculture (cultivating marine biota), plying the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes. Such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), Khi Islet (monkey), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and lizard also live on some of the islands.

Almost all these islands are as individual towers in a classic fenglin landscape with heights from 50m to 100m, and height/width ratios of up to about six.

Another specific feature of Halong Bay is the abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands. For example, Dau Be island has six enclosed lakes. All these island lakes occupy drowned dolines within fengcong karst.

Hạ Long Bay is located in northeastern Vietnam, from E106°56' to E107°37' and from N20°43' to N21°09'. The bay stretches from Yên Hưng district, past Hạ Long city, Cẩm Phả town to Vân Đồn District, bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by China, and on the west and southwest by Cát Bà Island. The bay has a 120 km long coastline and is approximately 1,553 km² in size with about 2,000 islets. The area designated by UNESCO as the World Natural Heritage Site incorporates 434 km² with 775 islets, of which the core zone is delimited by 69 points: Đầu Gỗ island on the west, Ba Hầm lake on the south and Cống Tây island on the east. The protected area is from the Cái Dăm petrol store to Quang Hanh commune, Cẩm Phả town and the surrounding zone.

The climate of the bay is tropical, wet, sea islands, with two seasons: hot and moist summer, and dry and cold winter. The average temperature is from 15 °C- 25 °C, and annual rainfall is between 2 meters and 2.2 meters. Hạ Long Bay has the typical diurnal tide system (tide amplitude ranges from 3.5-4m). The salinity is from 31 to 34.5MT in the dry season and lower in the rainy season.

Soi Nhụ culture (16,000–5000 BC)[edit]
Located in Hạ Long and Bái Tử Long are archaeological sites such as Mê Cung and Thiên Long. There are remains from mounds of mountain shellfish (Cyclophorus), spring shellfish (Melania, also called Thiana), some fresh water mollusc and some rudimentary labour tools. The main way of life of Soi Nhụ's inhabitants included catching fish and shellfish, collecting fruits and digging for bulbs and roots. Their living environment was a coastal area unlike other Vietnamese cultures, for example, like those found in Hòa Bình and Bắc Sơn.

Cái Bèo culture (5000–3000 BC)[edit]
Located in Hạ Long and Cát Bà island, its inhabitants developed to the level of sea exploitation. Cái Bèo culture is a link between Soi Nhụ culture and Hạ Long culture.[13]

Feudal period[edit]
History shows that Hạ Long Bay was the setting for local naval battles against Vietnam's coastal neighbors. On three occasions, in the labyrinth of channels in Bạch Đằng River near the islands, the Vietnamese army stopped the Chinese from landing. In 1288, General Trần Hưng Đạo stopped Mongol ships from sailing up the nearby Bạch Đằng River by placing steel-tipped wooden stakes at high tide, sinking the Mongol Kublai Khan's fleet.

During the Vietnam War, many of the channels between the islands were heavily mined by the United States Navy, some of which pose a threat to shipping to this day.

Geology and geomorphology[edit]
In 2000, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has inscribed the Hạ Long Bay in the World Heritage List according to its outstanding examples representing major stages of the Earth’s history and its original limestone karstic geomorphologic features. The Hạ Long Bay and its adjacent areas consist of a part of the Sino-Vietnamese composite terrane having its development history from pre-Cambrian up to present day. During Phanerozoic, terrigenous, volcanogenic and cherty-carbonate sediments containing in abundance graptolites, brachiopods, fishes, corals, foraminiferas, radiolarias, bivalves and flora, separated one from another by 10 stratigraphic gaps, but the boundary between Devonian and Carboniferous has been considered as continuous. The limestone karstic geomorphology of the bay was developed since Miocene, especially the cone-shaped hills (fengcong), or isolated high limestone karst towers (fenglin) with many remnants of old phreatic caves, old karstic foot caves, marine notch caves form magnificent limestone karst landforms as unique on the world. The Quaternary geology was developed through 5 cycles with the intercalation of marine and continental environments. The present Hạ Long Bay, in fact, appeared after the Middle Holocene maximum transgression, leaving ultimate zone of lateral undercutting in the limestone cliffs bearing many shells of oysters, having the 14C age as 2280 to >40,000 y. BP. Geological resources are abundant: anthracite, lignite, oil shale, petroleum, phosphate, limestone and cement additives, kaolin, silica sand, dolomite, quartzite of exogenous origin, and antimony, mercury of hydrothermal origin. Besides, there still are surface water, groundwater and thermal mineral water on the shore of the Hạ Long - Bái Tử Long Bays and other environmental resources.[14][15]

In terms of marine geology, this area is recorded as an especially coastal sedimentary environment. In the alkaline seawater environment, the chemical denudation process of calcium carbonate proceeds rapidly, creating wide, strangely shaped marine notches.

The bottom surface sediments are various from clay mud to sand, however, silty mud and clay mud are dominated in distribution. Especially, the carbonate materials originated from organisms make up from 60-65% sedimentary content. The surface sediments of coral reefs are mainly sand and pebbles of which the carbonate materials occupy for more than 90%. The intertidal zone sediments are various from clay mud to sand and gravel depending to distinguished sedimentary environments such as mangrove marshes, tidal flats, beaches etc. At the small, but wonderfully beautiful beaches, the sand sediments may be dominated quartz or carbonate materials.

The sediment layers of intertidal zone, the upper sea bed with a plain surface conserving ancient rivers, systems of caves and it's sediments, traces of ancient marine action forming distinctive notches, beaches and marine terraces, mangrove swamps are important evidence of geological events and processes taking place during Quaternary.[16]

History of tectonics[edit]
Hạ Long Bay has experienced at least 500 million years in various geological states of orogeny, marine transgression and marine regression. During the Ordovician and Silurian periods (500-410 million years ago), Hạ Long Bay was deep sea. During the Carboniferous and Permian periods (340-250 million years ago), Hạ Long Bay was at shallow sea level.

The dominated uplift movement of neotectonic and recent tectonic influenced deeply on topography of this area, and the present landscape of sea-islands was formed around 7 or 8 thousand years ago by the sea invasion during Holocene transgression begun at about 17-18 thousand years ago. Particularly from the Holocene time, from about 11,000 years ago Cat Ba - Hạ Long area has much archaeological evidence connecting variations in sea levels with the development of ancient cultures such as the Soi Nhu and Ha Long cultures.

Karst geomorphology value[edit]
Halong Bay in Vietnam.jpg
Due to a simultaneous combination of ideal factors such as thick, pale, grey, and strong limestone layers, which are formed by fine-grained materials; hot and moist climate and slow tectonic process as a whole; Hạ Long Bay has had a complete karst evolution for 20 million years. There are many types of karst topography in the bay, such as karst field.

Hạ Long Bay is a mature karst landscape developed during a warm, wet, tropical climate. The sequence of stages in the evolution of a karst landscape over a period of 20 million years requires a combination of several distinct elements including a massive thickness of limestone, a hot wet climate and slow overall tectonic up lift. The process of karst formation is divided into five stages, the second of which is the formation of the distinctive do line karst. This is followed by the development of fengcong karst, which can be seen in the groups of hills on Bo Hon and Dau Be Inland. These cones with sloping sides average 100m in height with the tallest exceeding 200m. Fenglin karst is characterised by steep separate towers. The hundreds of rocky islands with form the beautiful and famous landscape of the Bay are the individual towers of a classic Fenglin landscape where the intervening plains have been submerged by the sea. Most towers reach a height of between 50 and 100m with a height to width ratio of about 6. The karst dolines were flooded by the sea, becoming the abundance of lakes that lie within the limestone islands. For example, Dau Be island at the mouth of the Bay has six enclosed lakes including those of the Ba Ham lakes lying within its fencong karst. The Bay contains examples of the landscape elements of fengcong, fenglin and karst plain. These are not separate evolutionary stages but the result of natural non – uniform processes in the denudation of a large mass of limestone. Marine erosion created the notches which in some places have been enlarged into caves. The marine notch is a feature of limestone coastline but, in Ha Long Bay, it has created the mature landscape.

Within Ha Long Bay, the main accessible caves are the older passages that survive from the time when the karst was evolving though its various stages of fengcong and fenglin. Three main types of caves can be recognized in the limestone islands (Waltham, T. 1998):

Remnants of old phreatic caves
Old karstic foot caves
Marine notch caves
The first group of caves is old phreatic caves which include Sung Sot, Tam Cung, Lau Dai, Thien Cung, Dau Go, Hoang Long, Thien Long. Nowadays, these caves lie at various high levels. Sung Sot cave is on Bo Hon island. From its truncated entrance chambers on a ledge high on the cliff, a passage of more that 10m high and wide descends to the south. Tam Cung is a large phreatic fissure cave that developed in the bedding planes of the limestone dividing the fissure cave into three chambers. Lau Dai is a cave with a complex of passages extending over 300m opening on the south side of Con Ngua island. Thien Cung and Dau Go are remnants of the same old cave system. They both survive in the northern part of Dau Go island at between 20 and 50m above sea level. Thien Cung has one large chamber more that 100m long, blocked at its ends and almost subdivided into smaller chambers by massive wall of stalactites and stalagmites. Dau Go is a single large tunnel descending along a major set of fractures to a massive choke.

The second group of caves is the old karstic foot caves which include Trinh Lu, Bo Nau, Tien Ong and Trong caves. Foot caves are a ubiquitous feature of karst landscapes which have reached a stage of widespread lateral undercutting at base level. They may extend back into maze caves of stream caves draining from larger cave systems within the limestone. They are distinguished by the main elements of their passages being close to the horizontal and are commonly related to denuded or accumulated terraces at the old base levels. Trinh Nu, which is one of the larger foot caves in Ha Long Bay with its ceiling at about 12m above sea level and about 80m in length, was developed in multiple stages. Bo Nau, a horizontal cave containing old stalactite deposits, cuts across the 25o dip of the bedding plane.

The third group is the marine notch caves that are a special feature of the karst of Ha Long Bay. The dissolution process of sea water acting on the limestone and erosion by wave action crates notches at the base of the cliffs. In advantageous conditions, dissolution of the limestone allows the cliff notches to be steadily deepened and extended into caves. Many of these at sea level extend right though the limestone hills into drowned dolines which are now tidal lakes.

A distinguishing feature of marine notch caves is an absolutely smooth and horizontal ceiling cut through the limestone. Some marine notch caves had been not formed at present sea level, but old sea levels related to sea level changes in Holocene transgression, event to Pleistocene sea levels. Some of them passed preserved the development of old karstic foot cave in mainland environment or preserved the remnants of older phreatic caves. One of the most unusual features of Ha Long Bay is the Bo Ham lake group of hidden lakes and their connecting tunnel – notch caves in Dau Be island. From the island’s perimeter cliff a cave, 10m wide at water level and curving so that it is almost completely dark, extends about 150m to Lake 1. Luon cave is on Bo Hon island and extends 50m though to an enclosed tidal lake. It has a massive stalactite hanging 2m down and truncated at the modern tidal level. It has passed though many stages in its formation.

The karst landscape of Ha Long Bay is of international significance and of fundamental importance to the science of geomorphology. The fenglin tower karst, which is the type present in much of Ha Long Bay, is the most extreme form of limestone landscape development. If these karst landscapes are broadly compared in terms of their height, steepness and number of their limestone towers, Ha Long Bay is probably second in the entire world only to Yangshou, in China. However, Ha Long Bay ha also been invaded by the sea so that the geomorphology of its limestone is lands are, at least in part, the consequence of marine erosion. The marine invasion distinguishes Ha Long Bay and makes it unique in the world. There are other areas of submerged karst towers which were invaded by the sea, but none is as extensive as Ha Long Bay. [15] [17]

Timeline of geologic evolution[edit]
Some of the most remarkable geological events in Hạ Long Bay's history have occurred in the last 1,000 years, include the advance of the sea, the raising of the bay area, strong erosion that has formed coral, and, pure blue and heavily salted water. This process of erosion by seawater has deeply engraved the stone, contributing to its fantastic beauty. Present-day Hạ Long Bay is the result of this long process of geological evolution that has been influenced by so many factors.

Due to all these factors, tourists visiting Hạ Long Bay are not only treated to one of the natural wonders of the world, but also to a precious geological museum that has been naturally preserved in the open air for the last 300 million years.

Halong Bay is host to two ecosystems: a tropical, moist, evergreen rainforest ecosystem; and a marine and coastal ecosystem. The bay is home to seven endemic species: Livistona halongensis, Impatiens halongensis, Chirita halongensis, Chirita hiepii, Chirita modesta, Paraboea halongensis and Alpinia calcicola.

The many islands that dot the bay are home to a great many other species, including (but likely not limited to): 477 magnoliales, 12 pteris, 20 salt marsh flora; and 4 amphibia, 10 reptilia, 40 aves, and 4 mammalia.

Common aquatic species found in the bay include: cuttlefish (mực); oyster (hào); cyclinae (ngán); prawns (penaeidea (tôm he), panulirus (tôm hùm), parapenaeopsis (tôm sắt), etc.); sipunculoideas (sá sùng); nerita (ốc đĩa); charonia tritonis (ốc tù và); and cà sáy.

Environmental damage[edit]
With an increasing tourist trade, mangroves and seagrass beds have been cleared and jetties and wharves have been built for tourist boats.

Game fishing, often near coral reefs, is threatening many endangered species of fish.

Local government and businesses are aware of problems and many measures have been taken to minimize tourism affect to the bay environment for sustainable economic growth like introducing eco friendly tours and introducing tight waste control on resorts.[18]

Awards and designations[edit]
In 1962, the Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism designated Hạ Long Bay a 'Renowned National Landscape Monument'.

Hạ Long Bay was first listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994,[19] in recognition of its outstanding, universal aesthetic value. In 2000 the World Heritage Committee additionally recognised Hạ Long Bay for its outstanding geological and geomorphological value,[12] and its World Heritage Listing was updated.[20]

In October 2011, World Monuments Fund included the bay on the 2012 World Monuments Watch, citing tourism pressures and associated development as threats to the site that must be addressed. The goal of Watch-listing is to promote strategies of responsible heritage-driven development for a sustainable future.

In 2012, New 7 Wonders Foundation officially named Halong Bay as one of New Seven Natural Wonders of the world.

Hạ Long Bay is also a member of the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World.[21]

In literature[edit]
In writings about Hạ Long Bay, the following Vietnamese writers said:

Nguyễn Trãi: "This wonder is ground raising up into the middle of the high sky".
Xuân Diệu: "Here is the unfinished works of the Beings...Here is the stones which the Giant played and threw away".
Nguyên Ngọc: " form this first- rate wonder, nature only uses: Stone and Water...There are just only two materials themselves chosen from as much as materials, in order to write, to draw, to sculpture, to create everything...It is quite possible that here is the image of the future world".
Ho Chi Minh: "It is the wonder that one cannot impart to others".
Phạm Văn Đồng: "Is it one scenery or many sceneries? Is it the scenery in the world or somewhere?".
Nguyễn Tuân: "Only mountains accept to be old, but Hạ Long sea and wave are young forever".
Huy Cận: "Night breathes, stars wave Hạ Long's water".
Chế Lan Viên:
"Hạ Long, Bái Tử Long- Dragons were hidden, only stones still remain
On the moonlight nights, stones meditate as men do..."
Lord Trịnh Cương overflowed with emotion: "Mountains are glistened by water shadow, water spills all over the sky".

Ancient tales[edit]
Hạ Long bay's inhabitants have developed numerous tales explaining names given to various isles and caves in the bay.[22]

Đầu Gỗ cave (literally: "the end of wooden bars" cave): these wooden bars in this cave are the remnants of sharped wooden columns built under the water level by the order of Trần Hưng Đạo commander in order to sink Mongolian invaders' ships in the 13th century.
Kim Quy cave (literally: "Golden Turtle" cave): it is told that the Golden Turtle swam toward the Eastern Sea (international name: South China Sea) after returning the holy sword which had assisted King Lê Thái Tổ in the combat against Ming invaders from China. Next, with the approval of the Sea King, Golden Turtle continued to fight against monsters in this marine area. The turtle became exhausted and died in a cave. Consequently, the cave was named after the Golden Turtle.
Con Cóc isle (literally: Frog isle): is a frog- like isle. According to ancient tales, in a year of severe drought, a frog directed all animals to the Heaven and protested against the God. They demonstrated in favour of making rain. As a result, the God must accept the frog as his uncle. Since then, whenever frogs grind their teeth, the God has to pour water down the ground.
Hang Trống and Hang Trinh Nữ(litterally: Male cave and Virgin cave): the tale's about a beautiful woman had fallen in love with a fisherman whom must sail to the sea not so long after their engagement, the landlord saw this beautiful girl and captured her, but with her resistance, the landlord exiled the girl to remote island. After being left to starve, the girl was death and turned into a statue in which people called as Hang Trinh Nữ (Virgin Cave). Her betrothed ran to the girl's place and found out what had happened, he turned into an islet which situated nearby and called as Hang Trống (Male Cave)[23]

Long Son Island

Long Son may not be familiar to many of you, although it isn’t located far from Vung Tau. It’s an island lying 100km away from Ho Chi Minh City and is noted for its oyster farms and floating villages.

The island still retains its natural beauty and untouched landscapes. Long Son is 92km2 of which 54km2 is mainland and the rest is saline soil, swamp and mangrove. The people are friendly and hospitable and make a living from fishing, salt fields and tourism.

Nha Lon Long Son

Nha Lon Long Son (Long Son’s Big House) is perhaps the only man-made structure on the island worth visiting. It’s also called Den Ong Tran (Mr. Tran's Temple) and is a complex of old architecture made from red roof bricks and rare woods. This two-hectare area includes a temple, a hall, a school, a market, an old house and Mr. Tran’s tomb.

In 1900, Mr. Tran, aka Le Van Muu, arrived from Ha Tien with 20 family members by boat. He decided to settle down and spread his own religious teachings on the island. In 1910, he started the construction of the complex and finished it in 1929. The complex has been designated a national cultural and historical relic since 1991.

According to the old lady who sells drinks in the alley just in front of the main entrance, the best times to visit Nha Lon Long Son are the anniversary of Mr. Tran’s death (Feb. 20 in the lunar calendar) and the double ninth festival (Sep. 9 in the lunar calendar) as there are celebrations with a lot of visitors, particularly from the southeast and the Mekong Delta.

Floating Villages

From Nha Lon Long Son, a couple of roads take you round the island: the buildings and the countryside look like they would have done 20 or 30 years ago. One option is to take the main road towards Long Son floating village. What started as a few families providing a fishing service to tourists, gradually expanded into a large village with floating seafood restaurants. All seafood is caught live and cooked immediately for freshness.

Other floating villages are located at Ba Nanh and Cha Va Bridge, the recently built roadway that now connects Long Son with the island next door, Go Gang. Head over the bridge and you’ll find yourself driving through cleared areas of mangrove on the back road to Vung Tau. An alternative is to take a boat to the bay opposite Vung Tau. Here you can see the peninsular, the two mountains and the city from a distance. The cost depends on how long and far the trip is.

Long Son is not an obvious first choice as a travel destination, but makes an interesting diversion for anyone heading to and from Vung Tau.

Getting There

Take Highway 51 towards Vung Tau either from the roundabout junction just south of Bien Hoa with Highway 1 or via the Cat Lai back route that takes you through Nhon Trach. Just before you reach Ba Ria, there is a signpost and a turning on the right to Long Son Island. The trip from Saigon takes between 90 minutes and two hours.

Photos by Vu Ha Kim Vy

cat ba island hotels

Cát Bà Island

Cat Ba is the largest of the 367 islands spanning 260 km2 (100 sq mi) that comprise the Cat Ba Archipelago, which makes up the southeastern edge of Ha Long Bay in Northern Vietnam. Cat Ba island has a surface area of 285 km2 (110 sq mi) and maintains the dramatic and rugged features of Ha Long Bay. It is commonly used as an overnight hotel stop on tours to Ha Long Bay run by travel agents from Hanoi. This island belongs to Haiphong city - the most famous city of industry in Vietnam.

Cat Ba is the largest island in the Bay and approximately half of its area is covered by a National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba langur. The island has a wide variety of natural ecosystems, both marine and terrestrial, leading to incredibly high rates of biodiversity. Types of natural habitats found on Cat Ba Archipelago include limestone karsts, tropical limestone forests, coral reefs, mangrove and sea grass beds, lagoons, beaches, caves, and willow swamp forests. Cat Ba Island is one of the only populated islands in Ha Long Bay, with roughly 13,000 inhabitants living in six different communes, and 4,000 more inhabitants living on floating fishing villages off the coast. The large majority of the population can be found in Cat Ba town, which is located at the southern tip of the Island (15 km (9 mi) south of the national park) and is the commercial center on the Island. Since 1997, Cat Ba town has grown rapidly and has become a tourist hub for both the Island and greater Ha Long Bay. Especially, almost all surface of this island is deployed free wifi access points as well as 3.75 generation mobile networks, which can make visitors can easily work when traveling.

Contents  [hide] 
1 History of Cat Ba Island
2 Tourism
3 Cat Ba National Park
3.1 Core Area
3.2 Buffer Zone
3.3 Outer Transitional Area
3.4 Goals of the National Park
3.5 Biodiversity
3.6 The Cat Ba Langur
4 Environmental Problems
5 See also
6 References
7 External links
7.1 Cat Ba Langur
History of Cat Ba Island[edit]
Cat Ba " Historical name called Cat Ba " Island means "Women’s Island" (Cac meaning all and Ba meaning women). Legend has it that many centuries ago, three women of the Tran Dynasty were killed and their bodies floated all the way to Cat Ba Island. Each body washed up on a different beach and all three were found by local fishermen. The residents of Cat Ba built a temple for each woman, and the Island soon became known as Cat Ba.

Archeological evidence suggests that people have lived on Cat Ba Island for almost 6,000 years, with the earliest settlements being found on the southeastern tip of the Island close to the area where Ban Beo harbor sits today. In 1938, a group of French archeologists discovered human remains belonging "to the Cai Beo people of the Ha Long culture, which lived between 4,000 and 6,500 years ago… considered to be perhaps the first population group occupying the North-Eastern territorial waters of Vietnam… [and] the Cai Beo people may be an intermediary link between the population strata at the end of the Neolithic Age, some 4,000 years ago".

Cave Hospital
In more recent history, Cat Ba Island was inhabited mostly by Viet-Chinese fisherman and was largely influenced by both the French and American wars. The island was a strategic look-out point and bombing during the wars often forced local residents to hide among the Island's many caves. Today, the best reminders of the two wars have been turned into tourist attractions. Hospital Cave, which was a secret, bomb-proof hospital during the American War and as a safe house for VC leaders. This three-storey feat of engineering was in use until 1975 is only 10 km north of Cat Ba town. The second attraction, the newly built Cannon Fort, sits on a peak 177 meters high, offering visitors a chance to see old bunkers and helicopter landing stations as well as stunning views of Cat Ba Island, its coast, and the limestone karsts in Lan Ha Bay offshore.

In 1979, the third Indo-China War broke out between China and Vietnam in response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia that ended the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Relations between China and Vietnam collapsed, leading to the Vietnamese government evicting around 30,000 … of the fishermen, and most of the rest of the Chinese community from the greater Ha Long area.

Cat Ba town, showing the limestone hills behind the waterfront strip
Today, increases in infrastructure on the Island (including the building of bigger roads, dams to build harbors and to protect Cat Ba town from flooding, consistent electricity being brought to the island (which surprisingly happened as late as 1997) instead of having to rely on a generator, and large ferries and barges, able to transport trucks and cars to the Island from the mainland making daily trips to Cat Ba) made it easier for tourists to visit the Island, leading to a rapid increase in tourism and development in Cat Ba town starting in 2001. Since then, a stop on Cat Ba Island has been included in the itinerary of many Ha Long Bay cruises and a strip of tall, thin, five-storey budget hotels line the seafront, receiving more than 350,000 visitors a year.

Currently, over 105 hotels are listed in Cat Ba Island’s tourist directory pamphlet, from cheap budget hotels to flashier upscale resorts, and construction is underway on many more. Right now, construction is under way on the colossal Cat Ba Amatina, an enormous project that will transform the southern coast of the island. The Amatina compound will be "a world-class integrated marina, casino, resort and theme park" spanning 171.57 hectares and (VITC) will be able to host almost 6,000 residents at a time. The Amatina will boast "seven resorts with over 800 villas, three marinas, one international convention palace, six five-star hotels and one four-star hotel" (VITC).

The scale of this project is gigantic and will basically create a luxurious mini-city on Cat Ba and will attract tourists from around the world. Cat Ba Island has become the adventure-tourism capital of Vietnam, and many of the activities advertised are nature-based. Visitors can kayak and take boat cruises through Ha Long Bay and the Cat Ba Archipelago, hike through the national park, mountain bike around the Island, spend time on Monkey Island just offshore, tourist can stay at Monkey Island Resort for real relax time on private beach, explore the Island's many caves, swim on Cat Co 1, 2, or 3 (three sandy beaches a short walk from Cat Ba town), or even rock climb on the limestone karsts.

With its stunning scenery, its association with Ha Long Bay, its proximity to highly populous cities like Haiphong (50 km) and Hanoi (150 km), and even China (many regional visitors come to the Island in the summer, the busy season, to avoid the heat and pollution in the cities), and plenty to do, Cat Ba Island has become a major travel destination for foreign and Vietnamese visitors alike.

Cat Ba National Park[edit]
At the heart of Cat Ba Island lies a visually stunning and ecologically diverse national park. In 1986, 9,800 [98 km²] hectares (approximately one third of the Island's total land mass) was annexed as Cat Ba National Park, the first decreed protected area in Vietnam to include a marine component (Dawkins 14). It had previously been the site of a timber company. In 2006, the boundaries of the national park were redefined, so the park contained 109 km² of land area and an additional 52 km² of inshore waters and mangrove covered tidal zones (langur website). The park is staffed by 92 people, including over 60 park rangers.

View from Ngu Lam Peak, Cat Ba National Park
In 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago was declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Area in order to protect the multiple terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as well the diverse plant and animal life that is found on the Island. The UNESCO designation divides the archipelago into three distinct areas, each with certain functions and restrictions that regulates development and conservation measures on the Island:

Core Area[edit]
The core area needs to be legally established and is not subject to human activity, except research and monitoring, and as the case may be, to traditional extractive uses by local communities. Cat Ba National Park more or less constitutes the core zone of the Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve. (8,500 hectares, of which 2,000 are marine)

Buffer Zone[edit]
The buffer zone must surround or be contiguous to the core area. Activities are organized here so that they do not hinder the conservation objectives of the core area but rather help to protect it. It can be an area for experimental research and it may accommodate education, tourism, and recreational facilities. (7,741 hectares, of which 2,800 are marine)

Outer Transitional Area[edit]
To provide support for research, monitoring, education, and information exchange related to local, national, and global issues of conservation and development. (10,000 hectares, of which 4,400 are marine)

Goals of the National Park[edit]
The first purpose is conservation, and the park is primarily committed to protecting the nature and wildlife in the archipelago. The second purpose is scientific research, and the third purpose is to promote eco-tourism and environmental education. A third priority is to increase the economic development of the small communities living in the buffer zones of the national park through eco-tourism and conservation programs, that balance both conservation and economic goals.

Besides its natural beauty, the park is home to an almost unbelievable number of species. There are 1,561 recorded species of flora found in the park, from 186 families, including 406 species of wooden trees, 661 medicinal plants, and 196 edible plants. The fauna on the island consists of 279 species, including 53 mammal species from 18 families, and 23 Endangered and Critically Endangered species.

There are 160 bird species, 66 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 274 species of insects from 79 different families. Aquatically, there are 900 sea fish, 178 species of coral, 7 species of sea snakes, 4 species of sea turtles, and 21 species of seaweed found throughout the archipelago.

The Cat Ba Langur[edit]
The Cat Ba langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), or golden-headed langur, is endemic to Cat Ba Island and is one of the most endangered primates in the world. The langurs population numbers, which used to be between 2,400-2,700, dwindled to as low as only 53 langurs in 2000 due to poaching for traditional medicine and habitat fragmentation caused by human development.

Today, there are approximately 68 langurs left in the wild. The langur population and its habitat is monitored by the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project (CBLCP), a German-based NGO that works in close cooperation with the national park staff and the local governments on Cat Ba Island and in Hai Phong province, especially the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hai Phong, to protect the langur, its habitat, and to help conserve the biodiversity and environmental integrity of the entire Cat Ba Archipelago. difficulties the project has faced in the past and will face going forward. The CBLCP is an in situ conservation project, meaning the project works to protect both the animal and its habitat (there are no plans to put the langurs in zoos). This means that by taking efforts to preserve the langurs, the CBLCP, by protecting the natural environment of the archipelago, really works to preserve all the species found on the archipelago and to protect the overall health of the forest.

The biggest reason for the steep decline in langur population numbers was illegal poaching and trapping of the langurs for traditional medicinal purposes. This is a difficult trend to reverse, as the langur was being poached by local people who relied on the forest for subsistence and sold langurs to support their meager income, and from poachers outside the Island who are part of the international illegal wildlife trade. Another major threat facing the langurs is habitat fractionalization, due to increases in human development. Currently the langur population is fragmented into seven isolated sub-populations at five different locations on Cat Ba Island, with most of the langur groups being very small in number with some populations longer functional in terms of reproduction (only three groups are currently reproducing). The fragmentation of the langur population reduces genetic variability, which is already a major problem due to the minute population numbers, and makes it impossible for some groups of langurs to reproduce and replace aging group members.

To fight this problem, the CBLCP focused their efforts on two approaches: increasing education and awareness levels about the decline of the langur population and other conservation issues and creating a protection network that relies on the local population. These two approaches both take great effort and care to engage the residents of Cat Ba Island, which makes the programs more effective. The CBLCP also takes an active approach in raising levels of environmental awareness and education on Cat Ba Island; they also strive to create a connection between the citizens of Cat Ba Island and the natural environment. Other mammals in the Park include civet cats and oriental giant squirrels.

Cat Ba 2.JPG
Environmental Problems[edit]
For all of its natural beauty, Cat Ba Island faces numerous environmental problems. Increases in tourism and recent developments threaten the ecological integrity and biodiversity of the island, reducing and fragmenting the natural habitat for Cat Ba's numerous species. Illegal hunting and poaching, overfishing, and water pollution in Ha Long Bay continue to threaten the ecological health of the island.

Many tour operators include an option of trekking in the National Park or canoeing on three-day tours; shorter tours generally only stay overnight in the small town of Cat Ba (population about 8,000) or on boats moored in Cai Beo bay, about 2 km away from Cat Ba town. Cat Ba itself is attractively situated around a bay teeming with small boats, many of which belong to pearl or shrimp farmers, and can become very busy at weekends and during public holidays. The promenade has illuminations and a large fountain which only plays after dark; it is backed by a strip of cheap hotels and bars, but dominated by the wooded limestone hills behind. The island is a national park of Vietnam and was recognized by UNESCO in December 2004 as a Biosphere reserve of the world.