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You are here:      Home News Hidden beauty of islands in Vietnam
Hidden beauty of islands in Vietnam

Cat Ba Island

A trip to Catba (Cat Ba) island can be separated or combined with a visit to Halong Bay. This is the largest island in the Cat Ba Archipelago that consists of 350 limestone outcrops adjacent to Halong.

This is an oasis where you can be apart for one or a few days during a long voyage. If starting from Halong What it will take you 4 hours by a tourist boat, with stopovers for swimming, visiting spectacular karsts and having fresh sea food. In a single word, you can contemplate the beautiful scenery of Halong before reaching the island. You can also buy a ticket of the hydrofoil departing from Hai Phong Seaport to reach Cat Ba if your itinerary saves Halong for another visit.

 

With an area of 356 square km wide, Cat Ba encompasses forested zones, coastal mangrove and freshwater swamps, beaches, caves, and waterfalls. In 1986, the Northeast side of the island was designated a National Park, including a protected marine zone. Cat Ba Island supports a population of over 20,000, most of who live off fishing or farming in the South, in and around Cat Ba Town. The town is small and ancient, with clusters of fishing boats and inspiring sunsets across the harbor. You can check out the catch of the day in the early morning, see cuttlefish dried over hot charcoals, or stroll around the old town. It's a short hike from Cat Ba town through a tunnel to Cat Co Beach, whose mountains look like a throne holding a marvelous sandy coast, or if you hike further along, you will reach the rockier Cat Vang Beach.

As transportation o­n the town is not so well-developed, motorbikes is the most helpful means to get you to the larger Trung Trang Cave with many chambers, or to the National Park, or to discover other beaches around the island. A tour guide is necessary to help you communicate with the local drivers and introduce these viewpoints. The national park contains stringy trees, thick undergrowth and slippery vines. There is a great view that includes a French, now Vietnamese, farming village from the top of the mountain and a lake in the middle of the park that takes a half day to reach.

Cu Lao Cham, the beautiful offshore island

Cu Lao Cham is known as a beautiful island with various wild animals and legendary landscapes.

The large island consists of eight islets, 20 kilometers off the coast from Hoi An Ancient Town in Quang Nam Province. Cu Lao Cham Island has wonderful sand beaches, forested hills and the sea. With primitive landscape, the island is ideal for camping, swimming and scuba diving to enjoy the corals and beautiful marine life.

At the summer, if you reach for the island by normal boat, it takes 2 and half hour, but only 30 minutes by speed boat. There are 10 guesthouses for tourists who don’t want to spend the night in a tent on the beach. Transport from the mainland to the islet is quite comfortable.

History

Cham islands are supposed to be the first place where Cham people landed, coming to Quang Nam Province from Indonesia (small monuments, dikes and basin to grow up  rice on terraces are hidden in the forest, 17th century pagodas and small temples in the two villages). Therefore, being well-known since earlier Cham domination (from 4th to 14th century), the island became one of the main port of Champa Kingdom. Situated some eight miles  offshore Hoi An,  it was also part of Hoi An historical international trading. From  15th  century till the beginning of 20th century, the old city was a meeting point for  international vessels and junks.

Topography

The island comprises an archipelago of one large island and seven smaller islands. The largest island - Hon Lao, covering 1,317 ha, is circle shape at the high of 500m. There are nice beaches at Bim and Ong beach. The topography of Cu Lao Cham Island is dominated by two peaks: a 517m peak in the centre of the island and a 326m peak at the western end. Natural forest here covers 532 ha of the nature reserve, equivalent to 35% of the total area, while plantation forest covers a further 30 ha.

Biodiversity values

The island is a place where shelter for value swallows birds. The natural vegetation of the islands is lowland evergreen forest that is natural with a lot of woods and rare animals.

Scientists report the occurrence of macaques Macaca sp., monitor lizards Varanus sp. and pythons Python sp. To date, 265 vascular plant species have been reported from the nature reserve. Furthermore, a species of swift let Collocalia sp. is reported to nest on Hon Kho within the nature reserve.

Cu Lao Cham is also home to slanginess, birds whose nests have long been considered a delicacy by aristocrats and the wealthy. The nests may cost as much as US $4,000 per kilogram. In a beautiful day, tourists are able to see cliffs where slanginess build their nests and talk with salangine-nest takers.

Around the island has a lots of color corals under the water. Situated in a salty-water area, this square-bottom well, amazingly, provides clear fresh water all year round. Enjoyable extras include white-sand, pristine beaches and captivating attractions evocatively named  Bai Ong, Bai Bim, Bai Chong, Bai Bac, Suoi Tinh, Cau Mo, Suoi Ong and so on, where tourists can relax, go hunting, fishing even fishing octopuses.

Visiting Cu Lao Cham, you also have chances to view the sea swallows' nests clinging to the towering cliff. Cu Lao Cham wins kudos for its seafood and delicacies (octopuses, lobsters, fish's fin, abalone, kaki, hind, cholonia's eggs, bird's nests) and fascinating souvenirs (pearls, conches, tortoise-shells).

Moreover, you can take a tour to Lang beach for seeing some interest places as such Au Thuyen-a shelter for boats at bad weather, a 100-year Tay Tang Pagoda remarking the Buddhism that came here for long time ago, Ong temple - a place worshipping a big fish buried here.

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

The tear-shaped island of Phu Quoc lies in the Gulf of Thailand, just 45km west of Ha Tien and 15km south of the Cambodian coast. It's about 60km from north to south and if you're game, a good way to get around is on a moped.

It is called the Island of 99 Mountains because of sandstone chains that gradually descend from north to south. Ham Ninh, the longest, stretches 30km along the eastern edge. Mu Chua is its highest peak at 603 metres.

In the early 17th century, Phu Quoc was a desolate area where Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants earned their living from the highly coveted sea cucumbers.

From 1782 to 1786, Phu Quoc was a stronghold of Lord Nguyen Anh and later Emperor Gia Long, in his confrontation with Tay Son forces. In 1869, it was occupied by the French who set up rubber and coconut plantations. Between 1967 and 1972, the Saigon regime built a prisoner of war detention camp holding 40,000 inmates. When the war ended, Phu Quoc was converted into the tourist destination it is today.

Phu Quoc's monsoon sub-equatorial climate means it has two seasons each year — rainy in October and dry from November to September. It usually has wonderful clear and sunny skies with an average temperature of 27C.

First-time visitors to Phu Quoc are surprised by its sugary beaches and crystal water dotted with traditional wooden fishing boats.

The oddly shaped Dinh Cau Rock at the mouth of the Duong Dong River is the symbol of Phu Quoc and is a sacred, holy place. Legend has it that two powerful men who once ruled Phu Quoc were so generous and wise; people started worshipping them at the rock. Fishermen pray there before setting sail, asking for their safe return with a good catch.

Steps leading to the top of the rock reward climbers with gentle breezes and glorious sunsets.

Duong Dong Riverside Market has a cheerful atmosphere and vendors in conical palm hats who sell their produce and wares. Markets always seem to give a good insight into the local way of life.

Phu Quoc National Park covers more than 31,000 hectares, around 70 percent of the island. It has 929 tree species, 19 of which were only recently discovered. They provide home and shelter for many species of birds and small mammals such as flying squirrels and sloth monkeys. Trekking is rewarding but should only be done in the dry season.

Accommodation rates are still reasonable and negotiable, ranging from concrete bungalows to five-star hotels.

The local Phu Quoc dog is a well-tamed, wild canine species. It has become the favorite companion of hunters and can pick up the scent of their master from more than a kilometer away.

Phu Quoc is known in the kitchens of the world for two produces: pepper sauce and fish sauce. There are hundreds of sauce workshops churning out around 10 liters of fish sauce every year and countless pepper gardens cover 500 hectares.

 

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