Scorching hot summer days arrive in May. The best way to escape the uncomfortable heat is to get out and experience new and interesting things. Living Nomads will take you to the country’s best destinations, which promise to deliver beautiful inspiration through seas, islands, plateaus, and orchards. Now, let’s discover 6 great destinations in Vietnam for this summer.
Quang Binh — Following in the footprints of Kong
Of the three locations used during the filming of “Kong: Skull Island” in Vietnam, Quang Binh is the most impressive, as its scenery was used to depict King Kong’s home. Yen Phu Village, Cha Noi Valley and Chuot Cave have all satisfied and impressed visitors. These locations—still virtually unknown throughout most of the world—have become must-see destinations. Their beauty is especially spectacular during the summer.
“Kong” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts described Quang Binh’s Yen Phu Village as “surrealistically beautiful.” The area owns its own unique beauty, boasting stalagmites and limestone rocks emerging from the ground amid small neat houses.
Located in the Phong Nha–Ke Bang complex, the 17 kilometer Da Deo Pass on the Ho Chi Minh Trail is known for its imposing and mysterious scenery. Seen from Da Deo Pass, Cha Noi Valley looks like another world totally separate from the outside by a wall of high cliffs extending endlessly into the jungle.
Yen Phu’s tranquil lake is a focal point in the Cha Noi Valley. Its clear water surface acts as a huge mirror brightening the whole valley. The immense lake is separated from the residential area. It holds several plots of land that are large enough for buffalo to graze upon leisurely. In the distance, overlapping mountains loom cloaked in a thin layer of mist. The area is so quiet that it sometimes feels like you can feel the ripples of the lake.
The pristine Chuot (Mouse) cave became Kong’s home during the filming of Vogt-Robert’s movie. Chuot cave is a part of the Tu Lan cave system, a new location that is still visited very infrequently. This has allowed it to maintain its original beauty. A clear stream runs in front of the cave and down into the stunning Tan Hoa Valley in the distance. Chuot cave was selected to serve as Kong’s home because of its spectacular entrance that exceeded the director’s expectation. In the film, the cave appears perfectly prehistoric.
Exotic Voyages Travel Agent is introducing a new ten-day, nine-night “Kong: Skull Island” package to tourists who want to explore the locations where the movie was filmed. For more details, please visit www.oxalis.com.vn.
Quang Ninh — Enchanted with grottoes amid the sea
Ha Long Bay’s imposing scenery left a deep impression on viewers of “Kong: Skull Island.” The area’s thousands of magnificent limestone mountains have been recognized twice by UNESCO as a world natural heritage and are one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. Bright blue skies, spectacular caves, and countless limestone islands emerging from the sea are typical sights around Ha Long Bay.
Cua Van fishing village is another Quang Ninh location appearing in “Kong.” The small village’s tranquil and picturesque scenery has enchanted numerous visitors. Cua Van village, tens of kilometers from the seaside, is surrounded by both mountains and sea, making it an oasis, far from the noise of car horns. The village boasts beautiful houseboats docked close to each other housing friendly fishermen who talk to each other from their boats. Its breathtaking landscape has awarded the village a position on tourist website TravelandLeisure’s list of the ten best coastal destinations in the world. Website Journeyetc also lists it as one of the 16 best villages in the world.
Starting on April 1, five routes to Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay will be available, costing VND200,000–250,000 each route. Overnight stays on the bays (one or two nights) are priced from VND500,000 to 750,000 per person.
Ninh Binh — Home to beautiful natural sights
Ninh Binh Province, containing Trang An, Tam Coc, and Bich Dong has become one of the most famous tourist areas in Vietnam, especially since its appearance in “Kong: Skull Island.” Trang An is another world heritage site recognized by UNESCO.
One of the most entertaining experiences in Trang An is to sit on a boat gliding past the mountains and threading its way through mysterious caves.
Tam Coc and Bich Dong are sometimes referred to as “Ha Long Bay on land.” Tam Coc is a flooded karst cave system with three beautiful caves—Hang Cả, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba—on the Ngo Dong River. A boat ride will take you through a winding waterway which passes through these three caves. Bich Dong, which means “green cave,” is two kilometers from the Tam Coc boat pier. It has been recognized as the second nicest grotto in the country (after Huong Tich Grotto). A branch of the Ngo Dong River runs in front of the cave and winds along the mountain side. On the other side of the river is a vast green field. Bich Dong also boasts an ancient three-tiered cave pagoda at the top of a steep stone staircase. The climb is worth it, offering a magnificent view and a charming pagoda. The pagoda was built in 1428, at the beginning of the Le Dynasty. It holds a colossal bronze bell cast under the reign of King Le Thai To.
Ninh Binh is also famous for the Thung Nham Sanctuary, which is home to nearly 40 species of birds. When the sun sets at 5 or 6pm, thousands of birds fly back to their nests. The image of white birds flying across the pristine mountainous background creates a remarkable scene.
Danang — Attracting international film studios
One of the newest attractions in Da Nang is the Thuan Phuoc Field European film studio. Da Nang features scenery that might feel familiar to some European visitors, such as long lines of windmills akin to those in the Netherlands, or fairy-tale-like houses surrounded by white fences. There are also very old model cars crossing the streets of Da Nang, creating quite a unique image in this modern city.
This film studio is located at the foot of Thuan Phuoc Bridge, not far from the city center. This is a must-see destination for visitors—especially young people—hoping to experience a new and romantic place.
An ideal time to visit the film studio is around 4pm, when the sun is not too hot. Entrance fee is about VND200,000 per person for one hour.
Address: Le Van Duyet Street, Son Tra District, Da Nang
Dalat — An ecological village surrounded by birch forests and mountains
If you want to explore new places in a familiar destination, you should plan a visit to Da Lat’s birch forests, Cu Lan Village, and Bidoup National Park this summer.
Da Lat is famous for its magnificent birch forests tucked into the Tuyen Lam Lake area. In early summer the birch forests are green and then gradually change to yellow, orange, red and dark red in autumn. Visitors can take a boat across the lake to get a complete view of the landscape. On the journey you will pass the local people’s beautiful lakeside houses, giving you a chance to experience the peace of the plateau and the forests stretching as far as the eye can see.
Cu Lan Village is situated in Suoi Can Hamlet, Lat Commune, Lac Duong District, close to the village of the K’ho people. To reach the village, you will travel along a 20 kilometer pass winding from the city center through provincial highway 722. At Cu Lan Village, you can see the adorable sloths that gave the town its name, or you can interact with nature by taking part in a range of outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing, forest hiking, kite flying, fishing and camping.
Bidoup Nui Ba National Park on the Lam Vien Plateau is another must-see destination for those who enjoy trekking and off-roading. Bidoup National Park’s pine and birch forests—specific to the Central Highlands—cover almost the whole area of the Lam Vien Plateau. The park is also home to more than 1,000 plant species, including red pine, green cypress, Fujian cypress, two-flat-needle leaf pine, and five-needle leaf pine. The forests hold over 441 species of vertebrate animals including the Vietnamese greenfinch, an endemic species of bird that lives only in Vietnam.
When you leave the park you can walk around the villages of the Lach, Cil and Ma people, and stop for a while to enjoy roasted sweet potatoes and a glass of hot soy milk at a roadside stall. The trip sounds simple, but it promises many fascinating experiences.
Ben Tre — Pristine beauty in the homeland of coconut trees
Summer is the best time to begin your journey to Ben Tre, the homeland of coconut trees and various kinds of fruits, such as mangosteen, durian, plum and rambutan. You can even pluck these fresh fruits with your own hands and enjoy them right in the orchard. The Ben Tre area offers opportunities such as homestays, boat rowing along the canals to see nature, and participating in the activities of the local people like gardening and making coconut candy. On Quy Island you can enjoy fresh juice made from just-picked coconut and fruits such as longan, plums, oranges, mandarin, and grapefruit all year round. It is also famous for specialties made from grilled shrimp and raw fish. On Phung Island, you can enjoy the tasty flavor of girdle cakes, a specialty of Giong Trom, and directly participate in selecting rice, scraping coconut meat out and making cakes.
If you have more time, you should explore the orchards in Cai Mon, Son Dinh, Vinh Binh (Cho Lach) or Tien Long, Tien Thuy, Tan Phu (Chau Thanh). Cai Mon in Vinh Thanh Commune, Cho Lach District is famous for its durian, and supplies seedlings to the whole province.
Delicious dishes unique to Ben Tre include coconut wax, grilled banana served with coconut extract, and grape fruit compote served with durian.
Vam Ho Sanctuary is a new destination in Ben Tre. It covers My Hoa and Tan Xuan communes in Ba Tri District. Tourists are attracted to the area’s date-palm forest and rich vegetation cover including guava, French bean, Siamese custard apple, nipa and date-palm.
A visit to the Vam Ho Sanctuary will give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature. You can take a leisurely walk along the forest roads, wind your way through the mangrove forests, cross small bamboo bridges, lie down on a hammock to rest under the foliage, enjoy the fresh air of the Ba Lai River, or visit the old resistance base. This is the perfect place to spend the weekend.