Places to see in central Vietnam

21, March, 2016

Places to see in central Vietnam

Hue and Hoi An in central part of Vietnam are the highlights of many Vietnam tour packages, but if you have more time to travel Vietnam, these below places are highly recommended.

1. Ba Na (Da Nang)
Ba Na - Chua Mountain tourist area belongs to Hoa Vang, Da Nang, it isabout 50 meters from the central city to the west. Located 1,.487 meters above sea level, the average temperature in the summer is about 18oC. Ba Na - Chua Mountain is an ideal eco - tourism in the central Vietnam.

To step into Ba Na top, tourists should pass through 15 kilometers. This terrain is considered a small highland. Tourists not only enjoy fresh air but also can contemplate the beautiful scenery.

In addition, tourists can also enjoy the large space of Da Nang city, Vung Thung bay, Son Tra peninsula, My Khe beach, Ngu Hanh Son, Thu Bon River, and Cham Island.

Ba Na has various flora and fauna. In the old-growth forest, there are 256 species of fauna, 61 species of animal, 178 species of birds and 17 species of reptile. The flora includes 543 species. Ba Na has many rare animals such as: Crested Argus, Asian Black Bear, northern buffed-cheeked gibbon…

In 1986, Ba Na was recognized as natural reserve area, in which tropical forest and rare animals are protected. At the beginning of the 20th century, in order to serve the French’s vacation in the Central Vietnam, many hotels, villas were built along mountain side, Nui Mountain and Ba Na hill. After the war, the place was destroyed. Da Nang has recently restored and remodeled some ancient French villas, Buddhistic cultural area, hotels, bars…

Ba Na cable car system was built, with 94 cabinets and it can serve 1.5000 guests per hour; it takes about 15 minutes to go from the foot of Ba Na mountain to the Ba Na eco-tourism. According to the world telpher association, this Ba Na telpher system named in Guinness World Records. It is the world’s longest one-wire telpher network in the world (5,042.62m) and the telpher with the highest gap between the lowest and the highest stations (1,291.81m).

Ba Na telepher is an ideal destination. From here, tourists can enjoy the colorful picture as well as sparkling views. Sitting in the cabin, you can see the grandeur of mountain, rainfall, the old-growth forest.

2. Ly Son Island (Quang Ngai)
With many historical, cultural relics and fascinating tourist areas, the 10-square-kilometer Ly Son Island in the central province of Quang Ngai is an amazing tourist attraction.

From Quang Ngai Province, Ly Son Island can be reached by trains from Sa Ky fishing port at 8 a.m. every morning. The island is distinguished for its vast garlic fields with a pungent aroma. That explains why Ly Son is called the kingdom of garlic.

The island has a diverse ecosystem. It has five mountains, namely Thoi Loi, Gieng Tien, Hon Vung, Hon Soi and Hoi Tai. The magnificent mountains entice tourists by mysterious caves, imposing waterfalls, and splendid rivers and lakes.

The mountainsides covered with green cornfields are studded with old, charming ruong houses.  Along the mountains are stunning beaches full of colorful rocks, pebbles and corals.

Nestled in the Thoi Li Mountain is the Hang Pagoda, a peaceful sanctuary with ancient architecture surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Not only accommodating various valuable historical and cultural relics, the Ly Son Island also embraces legends associated with many folk and traditional festivals such as Tet (Vietnam's new year), boat race, hat boi (traditional Vietnamese opera), fish worshipping, and especially ceremonies to pay homage to solders who died in battles in Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands.

The island is also considered a living museum for Hoang Sa's artifacts.  An Vinh Temple worships ancestors who explored and reclaimed the land four centuries ago.   It also hosts offering ceremony to marine soldiers who sacrificed their lives in missions on the East Sea and an offering ceremony for the souls of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa soldiers in the third lunar month every year.

The island has a 374-square-meter museum displaying more than 1,000 documents, photos and artifacts associated with the heroic Hoang Sa and Truong Sa troops. The island also holds a cemetery for the late Hoang Sa soldiers.

Many artifacts of Sa Huynh and Cham Cultures were discovered on Ly Son Island. The Thien Yana and old ruong houses are evidence for Sa Huynh and Cham's ancient civilizations.

Ly Son can be reached by train from Sa Ky fishing port, about 20km away.

In Ly Son, power is available once every two nights from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. In the summer, tourists can camp on the beach to experience nature.

3. Cu Lao Xanh (Binh Dinh)
Cu Lao Xanh means Green Island, located in Nhon Chau commune, Quy Nhon city, Binh Dinh province. It is considered a charming pearl on the sea, featured with an amazing green of sea water.

The islet is covered by a green foliage; therefore it is seen at distance as a green island rising from the green water of the sea and under a blue sky. But visitors will mostly enjoy the wonderful view of the islet at sunset, with small fishing boats beating the waves. The small island is known for a lighthouse built some hundred years ago legends say fairies used to bathe in, hence its name, Suoi Tien (Fairy’s Spring).

The residents on Cu Lao Xanh are scattered, mainly elders and kids, so you will have chance to experience the life of a deserted island. You can join fishing with local people to catch seafood and set up a BBQ party on the beach.

4. Binh Tien beach (Ninh Thuan)
With its primitive and beautiful landscape, Binh Tien Beach in Cong Hai Commune, Ninh Hai District is one of the most beautiful sites in Ninh Thuan Province that attracts both domestic and foreign tourists.

To reach the beach, travel along Highway 1A from Phan Rang City in the direction of Nha Trang to km marker 1525 (31km from Phan Rang and 72km from Nha Trang), turn right onto a small newly-built road, about 2km long, and then pass over a spring named “Spring of Fresh Water” that connects the two sea straits in Cam Lap Commune, Khanh Hoa Province and Cong Hai Commune in Ninh Thuan Province.

The centre of Binh Tien area is a small village located under the shade of rows of coconut trees. Binh Tien Beach spreads out over about 3km with white and soft sand and its waves are not big. Thevsea water is very clean and clear.

Binh Tien Beach in summer offers visitors thatch roofed huts where they can enjoy such seafood favorites as cuttlefish, crabs and snails while taking in the fresh sea air. Furthermore, it is very interesting to behold sunrise on the beach, particularly at Ca Tien Beach on the southern side, 1km away.

If tourists reach the mountain peak when the sun rises out of the sea, they will be amazed and fascinated by the charming scenery. The bright sunshine reflects off the soft and white sandy beach surrounded by rocks of different shapes. Once visited, it promises to be a “must return”.

5. Phu Quy Island (Binh Thuan)
Phu Quy Island is located about 120km from Phan Thiet City to the east in Binh Thuan Province. Covering over 17km 2 with great potential, the island is considered the political, economic and cultural centre of the island district of Phu Quy.

During the day of calm sea, it takes tourists only about 5-6 hours by ship and only 3 hours by a high speed boat to arrive on the island.

Seen from the sea from different directions, the island looks like a floating city with interesting shapes, such as a dragon, a codfish or a giant whale swimming in the deep blue ocean.

Near Phu Quy Island are various small islands, named Hon Tranh, Hon Den, Hon Trung, Hon Giua and Hon Do.

In the past, the island was called different names, including Co Long, Thuan Tinh and Khoai Xu.

According to historical records, the island has been famous for its great potential. Since the 17th century many people from the mainland arrived on the island to claim the land and establish villages.

Located in the middle of the East Sea, Phu Quy Island has a strategic position in terms of national defence and security of Binh Thuan Province in particular and of the nation in general.

Therefore, it now gives the island the urgent task of both developing the economy and protecting the national island sovereignty.

Thanks to support and investment from the State, Phu Quy has experienced great changes and has quickly developed and become the political, economic and cultural centre of Phu Quy District.

The island has Phu Quy Port where hundreds of boats and ships sail in and out everyday to refuel, load water and transport seafood. The port is capable of receiving ships of hundreds of tonnes.

With its advantage of geographic position and natural conditions, the island has great potential for marine economy and tourism. From the island, the locals can catch special seafood from offshore fishing so the average catch yields more than 50,000 tonnes/year.

On the days when fishing boats arrive in the port, it becomes bustling with traders. Here, there are various species of valuable seafood, such as holothurian, sea-bass, king crabs, Vu nang snails, tuna and cuttlefish.

The island is endowed by nature with a cool climate, many beautiful beaches, such as Trieu Duong Bay, Doi Dua and Nho Ganh Ngang and a diverse flora and coral reefs. The island also has plentiful fresh water resources.

All create favorable conditions for the island to develop tourism.

Besides the natural potential, Phu Quy Island has over 30 famous historical and cultural relics such as Linh Son Pogaoda, Linh Quang Pagoda; Ba Chua Ngoc Temple; Trieu Duong Communal House and My Khe Park.

The island is especially well known for Van An Thanh Relic which was built in 1781 to worship the Nam Hai Genie and the locality’s patron saint.

The relic now preserves about 100 skeletons of whales and sea turtles from different dates. Every year, the locals organize a lot of traditional festivals like the Spring and Autumn Offering Ceremony.

With its historical and cultural values, Van An Thanh was recognized as a National Historical and Cultural Relic in 1996 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Besides the landscape, ecological environment and cultural and historical relics, Phu Quy has a good infrastructure with a spacious system of roads, schools, hospitals, boat repairing workshops and a sea rescue station. It also can access the networks of Mobifone, Vinaphone and Viettel.

 Phu Quy Island focuses its investment on infrastructure, such as the construction of a breakwater, hotels and entertainment areas, improving the living standards of locals and developing the economy, tourism and services.

6. Thien Duong Cave (Quang Binh)
Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO-recognised world natural heritage site in the central province of Quang Binh, has become a favorite destination of domestic and foreign tourists.

After visiting the cave, many people recognized its irresistible magic, saying that this was the most beautiful wonder of the Creator on earth.

Thien Duong was labeled the world’s most beautiful and magnificent cave when it was discovered by scientists from the British Cave Research Association in 2005.

Located in the middle of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, about 4 km west of the Ho Chi Minh Road, the cave, which is believed to be formed hundreds of millions of years ago, is surrounded by underground streams and rocky mountains.

The cave was discovered by a local man named Ho Khanh. British explorers then explored the cave and stated that it is 31.4km long, with width from 30-100 metres, with the widest point measuring 150 metres and height of around 60m. It is considered the longest dry cave in Asia.

After crossing an old forest, visitors see the entrance to the cave shaded by century-old trees and are then dazzled by the mysterious beauty of stalactite pillars, each dozens of metres in diameter, and grandiose rock arches, created overmillions of years.

7. Pu Mat National Park
Pu Mat National Park has an area of 94,804.4 hectares located in the administrative boundaries of three districts (Anh Son, Con Cuong, and Tuong Duong) (Nghe An), about 130 km of Vinh city to the west, bordering Vietnam - Laos.

Located in the tropical monsoon climate, the average annual rainfall here of1.800mm and the average temperature of 23.5 ° C, Pu Mat National Park is the place to visit and an exciting resort full of charms for the who want to explore and be immersed in the nature, the earth and the sky.

Pu Mat National Park is the place of the world to discover a rare species: Saola. Also it has 2494 species of plants, 132 species of mammals, 361 species of birds, 53 species of reptiles, 33 species of amphibians, 83 species of fish, 39 species of bats, and 1,080 species of insects. Many species of rare plants are under threat including 69 species of plants and 70 species of of animal listed in the Red Data Book of Vietnam and the World Red Book.

According to the Thai language, Pu Mat means a mountain peak. Pu Mat is the highest peak in the area (1.841m) and was named to the national park. The beauty of Pu Mat is pristine and little touch of human hands. Coming here, visitors will admire the wild character of primeval forest with high levels of biodiversity in Vietnam and discover ethnic minorities having unique cultures.

Spreading over  Tuong Duong, Con Cuong and  Anh Son districts, Pu Mat is the residence of the Thai ethnic group. The wild majestic mountainous beauty is mixed with a unique exquisite Thai culture. They live in wooden stilts houses with rice cultivation. In the hills, they participate in planting, raising livestock and poultry, making rattan products and weaving.

Thai brocade is renowned for its unique, colorful and durable features. Keeping a long tradition, each Thai community has its own beliefs and practices with the festivities associated with the bumper crops and agricultural production. Bamboo dancing and drinking “ruou can” (tube wine) are characterized in the daily life of the Thai people.

The Kinh group and and Dan Lai ethnic group live here. Dan Lai people are concentrated in 3 villages (Co Phat, Ban Con and Ban Bung) in Mon Son commune, located in the southeast of the Pu Mat National Park. They are living and farming on steep slopes.  Coming to Pu Mat, visitors will admire the ancient forest in Tam Dinh commune, Tuong Duong district.

Also visitors can immerse themselves in the coolness of Khe Kem waterfall (aka Kem waterfall) in the sweltering heat of central Vietnam. Located in 20 km of Con Cuong town to the south, this waterfall is spectacular at an altitude of 150m.

Many scientists have confirmed that this waterfall was the most pristine in Vietnam. The road to the waterfall is crooked, winding and bumpy. Thai people call it Bo Bo (white silk string). From the foot of the waterfall, you will feel that the endless stream flows in a white foam strip like an endless white silk string.

On the small boats on Giang River, visitors will return to true nature, where man is only a small part of nature. The banks are pristine trees with majestic limestone mountains.

8. Cam Luong God Fish Stream (Thanh Hoa)
Cam Luong Fish Stream is home to thousands of fish, weighing from 2kg to 8 kg each. There are several king fish of up to 30 kg.

Surprisingly, the fish swim around a 100-meter long section during the day and they hide in caves at night. Besides eating the leaves that fall from the trees along the stream, the fish are also fed spinach once or twice a week by the stream guards.

According to local officials, the fish in Cam Luong Stream are doc fish, a carp species named in the Red Book of Vietnam.

Local people believe that the fish in Cam Luong Stream are sacred fish and the growth of the fish will bring prosperity to the local community.

Dinh Trong Tam, who has been living near the stream for 80 years, says the origin of the sacred fish started from a legend about the snake god.

Surrounded by limestone mountains, the stream is only 100 meters long and 3-4 meters wide. There are tens of thousands of fish (weighing from 2 to 8 kg; the biggest ones are up to 30 kg) in strange shapes and many colors. When they swim, their bodies glow.

In the dry season, the stream is only 20-40 cm deep and the water is clear. Visitors can reach out to caress the fish. The density of the fish is thick but the water does not smell. Local residents use the water for cooking, bathing and washing. This tourist attraction attracts thousands of visitors yearly.

At present, the fish hang around near a small cave with about one meter radius.

Locals say the fish have been there for hundreds of years and the people consider them as treasures. The fish have never been attacked by disease.

Despite floods, the fish in the stream never drift away. The big fish that were swept away by flood seek a way to return to the stream. The fish stream is sacred and nobody dares catch the fish, according to locals.

Every year, a festival is held near the stream from the 8th to 15th of the first lunar month.

Muong people in the Luong Ngoc call the fish “doc” while scientists define the fish as a species of carp, with the scientific name of Spinibarbichthys denticulatus. This species is listed in the Red Book of Vietnam.

9. Vuc Phun (Phu Yen)
Located in Hoa My Tay Commune, Tay Hoa District, about 20 kilometers south of Tuy Hoa City in Phu Yen Province, Vuc Phun is popular among local tourists but not much frequented by foreigners. The place can also meet the demand of those interested in ecology, mountain climbing, stream bathing and camping.

Tucked in Da Den Mountain Range and blanked in green trees, Vuc Phun has an enormous waterfall created by the strong currents of Cai Stream, and various huge smooth rocks on the edge of the pit and under the water surface.

To Vuc Phun, tourists can indulge in a world of giant rocks which can be used as seats or tables or even places for tourists to lie down for relaxing or eating under the shades of groves.

Swimming in the pure and cool water must be a favorite activity for everyone in the summer. However, excursionists have to make sure to have good shoes to walk on the rocks.

10. Vung Ro Bay (Phu Yen)
Vung Ro is a lush and charming bay located in Xuan Hoa Nam Commune, Dong Hoa District, Phu Yen Province. Vung Ro Bay has a total area of 16,4 kilometer meters water surface and it is surrounded by three majestic mountains among the immense sea, including: Deo Ca (in the north), Da Bia (in the east) and Hon Ba (in the west). Also, the Bay is shielded by Hon Nua Islet in the south.

Along the path to Vung Ro, you will marvel at the green trees space, endless countryside grasslands, flickering turquoise seawater from a far distance and small plain houses in an enormous ground. If you go from Deo Ca mountain pass, you will be challenged by spectacular hairpin curves and experience steep craggy mountain slopes as well. It is an amazing journey, isn’t it?

Looking from Deo Ca, Vung Ro has a breathtaking allure which can stop you for a while on that mountain pass to gaze at that wonder. Vung Ro Bay looks like a giant mirror reflecting every scene. The scenery is mighty but also romantic and poetic. The Bay is like a brilliant primitive nature painting just with familiar natural “materials”. It only has a clear sky, mountains, blue sea, white clouds and forests, but all of them harmonize spectacularly.

Moreover, visiting Vung Ro, tourists can enjoy relaxing moments at many serene and pristine beaches, such as: Lach beach, Mu U beach, Chua beach, Chan Trau beach, Lau beach, Nhan beach, Bang beach and so forth. You can discover endless flat sands next to the immeasurable blue sea, duck in the cool water and play joyfully amidst a quiet and tranquil space.

Vung Ro is the land’s sweetheart-a funny comparison of the locals here because it is always protected and shielded by enduring and mighty mountains. Consequently, the sea is calm and gentle ever and ever.

Vinh Ro Bay looks constantly beautiful at any time of a day. Even in the dawn or sunset, in the swelter noon or black night, Vung Ro Bay always captivates tourists with its fascinating charm.

Vung Ro Bay saw fierce fighting during the Vietnam War with America. However, it still remains the whole pleasant, pure and peaceful beauty over years. In the Vung Ro Bay, you may be shocked that among those crowded boats anchoring there, there is a shipwreck somewhere under the water, which carried patriotic soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War against the US in 1964-1965.

People consider Vung Ro Bay as a paradise of the Nau land. It not only possesses the particular harmonious and calm atmosphere of this land, but also evokes a remarkable glamor of a primordial beach paradise in Vietnam.

If you feel sick of busy, crowded beaches and are eager to be immersed in a peaceful and pristine beach, then make a plan to explore Vung Ro Bay right away. Blue sea, fine sands and marvelous mountain scenery promises to be an interesting destination.