Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA launches New Year Promotion 2012

Human Christmas and New Year approaching, ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) should send to all travelers of the faithful, heartfelt words to wish a peaceful Christmas and New Year exuberant grace of God. With the approaching of Christmas and New Year 2012, ATA is providing discount up to 7 % for all loyalty customers to buy ATA’s tours during the period from Feb, 1 2012 to Apr, 1 2012.

ATA runs the most adventure tours available in Indochina and Asia. ATA’s active trips are designed for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, real people seeking real fun and adventure. Of course, a reasonable level of personal fitness, good health, and interest in outdoor activities is advisable, but the customers don't need to be a tri-athlete or be an expert in any of the activities you will undertake.
There are variety kinds of adventure tours ATA’s customers can choose from: motorbiking, trekking, hiking, biking, kayaking…


ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA is one of the Indochina's leading adventure travel companies. ATA offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages. ATA’s packages and tailor-made private itineraries will take you through exotic destinations to really experience the culture, history and nature of Asia. Visit more, go to

Sunday, December 18, 2011

There be dragons – Halong Bay

The legend goes that the islands of Halong Bay were formed by dragons who spit out jade and jewels into the sea to help the Vietnamese build a barrier to defend against would be invaders. After attempts to conquer the area were thwarted, the dragons fell in love with the bay and took eternal residence there. One look at these giant, limestone karsts, and I couldn’t help but be overtaken with the sense that we were sailing among the sleeping beasts.

Traveling three hours east of Hanoi, we arrived in Halong City and boarded a traditional Vietnamese junk for a three day, two night tour of Halong Bay. Words can’t described how ethereal the bay is – emerald waters… giant, jungle topped islands… ancient boats… it was a different world.

Off the boat, we got to explore the bay and travel to island caves by kayak. Our main boat pulled into a small sheltered “lagoon” between the karsts that served as protection for some floating homes that had kayaks available for us.

Swimming in the Pacific, on the other side of the world, proved absolutely magical. Splashing around in Halong Bay, I couldn’t get it out of my head that I was swimming on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Zooming Through Vietnam

The Vietnamese bus tout are convinced they’ll get business from us. “Bus to Sa Pa” they call as we tuck away our passports, re-attach helmets and roll bicycles down a short but sheer ramp from border control into Vietnam proper. “We go by bicycle,” we reply. They shake heads. “No…. you go bus.” I look the youngest and most hopeful tout in the eyes and assure him that we’re very strong. He shakes his head in response: “Sa Pa? You go by bus?”

Cat Cat village rice fields

We cross into the country with Mirko, an Italian cyclist who is also headed up to Vietnam’s premier hill top town. He (perhaps wisely) opts for the bus, leaving us to conquer the 28km climb alone. Pedalling away from the river, the border town of Lao Cai passes by in a blur of motorcycles and baguette stalls before the climbing really begins about 5km in. We’re soon in thick jungle interspersed with roadside shacks selling beer and food, following a road which heads relentlessly up. The heat is a new challenge and almost instantly the sweat factor is so high that the water is rolling off my cheeks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Experience Sapa

Attractive eco-friendly valleys, terraced slope attributes as well as tribes nevertheless subsequent their own historic customs — encouraged in order to Sapa.

Situated 350kms north-west associated with Hanoi, simply timid from the Chinese language edge may be the Lao Cai Land exactly where you’ll discover Sapa. It’s environment as well as amazing scenery tend to be about the reduce inclines from the Hoang Lien Boy hill variety, that additionally features Vietnam’s greatest hill Fansipan, having a elevation associated with 3142 metre distances.

Sapa is actually filled with a varied number of cultural minorities like the Hmong, Yao, Tay as well as Giay organizations. Considered to possess lived on the region because the 1800′s, these types of Sapa slope tribes continue to be close to these days ongoing their own life-style as well as customs because they did for hundreds of years.

The elements is extremely periodic, throughout the summer time it is very reasonable as well as wet. Throughout the winter season it may be chilly, misty as well as obtain the unusual compacted snow. Suggested occasions to visit tend to be 03 via Might as well as middle Sept in order to earlier Dec to obtain a hotter as well as better encounter.

Arranging your own go Sapa ahead of time via a journey professional is actually recommended. The easiest method to reach Sapa is actually through immediately teach, exactly where vacationers may rest the actual trip aside. Through Hanoi the actual trip requires around 10 several hours and also the locomotives go away every day. You will find 14 locomotives that offer the actual come back trip in between Hanoi as well as Lao Cai, just about all supplying air-conditioning as well as comfy cabins along with several berth choices. You will awaken rejuvenated as well as prepared for the Sapa experience to start whenever you appear in to Lao Cai earlier the following early morning.

Place your own strolling footwear upon as well as discover the actual valleys providing breathless surroundings top you to definitely nearby towns. The actual closest town associated with Kitty Kitty is just 3kms through Sapa, an additional choice is actually Ta Phin town house in order to Red-colored Dzao around 10kms aside. The majority of vacationers looks for helpful information as well as has a Xe Om (motorcycle) to some starting place 8kms through Sapa, after that journey the 14km cycle round the region going to towns on the way. There is lots of walking as well as hiking choices in the region for those health and fitness amounts, going to slope group towns as well as waterfalls. For that severe mountaineer why don’t you undertake the actual 19km trip towards the peak associated with Fansipan, Vietnam’s greatest maximum?

An additional appeal associated with any kind of Sapa journey may be the marketplaces. You will find several marketplaces kept round the region usually about the weekend break upon whether Sunday or even Weekend. The well-known marketplace may be the Back ‘Weekend marketplace, the industry buying and selling center as well as conference location with regard to family and friends. You will discover the neighborhood minorities putting on their own conventional clothes, the actual Hmong tend to be recognized through their own indigo stitched garb and also the Red-colored Dao through their own red-colored headdresses along with hanging cash as well as waistcoats which are intricately stitched as well as put on through the ladies. The actual Adore Marketplace is actually an additional famous marketplace — typically it had been a location in which the youths from the nearby slope tribes might arrive to locate a partner.

If you have fulfilled the actual local people, trekked the actual valleys as well as marvelled the actual sights associated with significantly terraced grain areas, shopped in the marketplaces and also have your own cherished times taken, you’ll return in order to Lao Cai train station for the immediately teach to Hanoi. The Sapa journey experience is really a particular emphasize associated with any kind of day at Vietnam.


Recommended tours:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Amazing rocky walls in Cham Islet

When touring Cham Islet, or Cu Lao Cham in the ancient city of Hoi An in Quang Nam Province you are bewitched by splendid landscapes with wonderful sandy beaches, forested hills and the glorious clear, blue sea.

A view of Cham islet in Hoi An ancient town, Quang Nam Province
The location is a popular spot for tourists to go camping, swimming and scuba-diving to explore coral reefs and beautiful marine life.
However, with a small boat you can take a cruise around the islet and travelers will discover it is enhanced due to its rocky mountain walls.

Forested hills and the glorious clear, blue sea

Cham Islet, 20 kilometres offshore of Hoi An, has been named a global biosphere reserve by UNESCO’s International Coordination Council of Man and the Biosphere Program.

It takes about twenty minutes by boat or canoe but it is worth the short wait as you drift amidst the sky and sea

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PU HU nature reserve

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA and GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit in Vietnam) working together in a survey of responsible tourism project in Pu Hu Nature Reserve, Thanh hoa province, Vietnam. 

The survey trip will be held in middle of December, 2011 by ATA team with support of GIZ Vietnam. ATA inspection team will spend about 3 days to scan this area, evaluating the suitable activities for a tourist site. This activity is a part of project “Protection of the forest and wildlife” implemented by GIZ Vietnam, under the management of Forest Protection Department of Thanh Hoa Province.

Pu Hu Nature Reserve is situated in the North-West of Thanh Hoa Province. It has a big diversity of plants and animals with 508 plant species and 266 animals species. It also has a role in protecting the catchment of the Ma river. The inhabitants of the nature reserve and buffer zone belong to the Thai, Hmong, Dao and Kinh ethnic groups.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Active Travel Asia announced the prizes for the contest “Indochina in Your Eyes”!

First word Active Travel Asia sent to you to joint our competition “Indochina in yours eyes” most sincere thanks!

“Indochina in yours eyes” contest lasted over 2 months (1st Sep 2011 to 20th Nov 2011) and ends on 20 Nov 2011. Organizing Committee has received many entries with unique ideas, deeply felt and very sincere, especially from customers love traveling and traveled to Indochina in a lifetime.

Now is the time to honor the winner.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vietnam - A cultural feast

I envisioned hiking to remote villages to find mountain hill tribes; people living in indigenous villages, untouched by outside influences.

Instead, as we pulled into Sapa, in the northern part of Vietnam, a group of Black Hmong women gathered on the side of the road as our shuttle pulled into the center of town. A welcoming committee, perhaps?

As the van came to a stop, my jaw dropped as the entire group charged at our vehicle screaming “You buy from me!”

This was not the authentic

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ha Long Bay is New Wonder of Nature

Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, announced the New7WondersFoundation on November 12 after the first count of global voting ended a day earlier.

                                                                Halong Bay, Vietnam

In alphabetical order, the seven winners are the Amazon, Ha Long Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, Puerto Princesa Underground River and Table Mountain.

The New7Wonders of Nature campaign have been carried out over the past four years, starting with more than 440 locations from about 220 countries.

The New7Wonders of Nature have been chosen from the 28 finalist candidates, according to Bernard Weber, founding president of Switzerland-based New7Wonders Foundation.

According to the foundation, the results are provisional and based on the first tally of votes. The votes still need to be checked, validated and independently verified.

Once the voting validation process is complete, in early 2012, New7Wonders will then work with the confirmed winners to organize the official inauguration events.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vietnam: gems of the north

Vietnam is increasingly becoming a popular destination for travellers each year. Its large chaotic cities are popular stop-offs for young travellers, and a great place to spend a few days. However, it can be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle, and northern Vietnam boasts fantastic scenery for those able to pull themselves away from the captivating capital of Hanoi.

Northern Vietnam boasts fantastic scenery

Hanoi is a bustling city, riddled with motorcycles, bright lights, and street vendors; it can be hard to keep up with. There is much to see in and around the city and plenty of culture to absorb in the ancient architecture which is dotted throughout the vibrant city.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ha Long – a wonder of the creator

Located in Quang Ninh Province, Ha Long Bay includes the sea areas of Ha Long City, Cam Pha Town and a part of Van Don island district. With the admirable natural beauty and multiform, special values, Ha Long has become the must-see destination in Viet Nam for domestic and international visitors.

The legend has it that, once upon a time, soon after the Viet people established their country, invaders came. The Jade Emperor sent Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons down to the earth to help the Viet people fight against their enemy. When the dragons landed down on the earth, invaders' boats were rushing to the shore.

The dragons immediately turned into thousands of stone islands emerging in the sea like great walls challenging the invaders' boats. The fast boats couldn't manage to stop and crashed into the islands and broke into pieces. After the victory, Mother Dragon and Child Dragons didn't return the heaven but stayed on the earth at the place where the battle had occurred. The location Mother Dragon landed is present Ha Long Bay and Child Dragons landed is present Bai Tu Long Bay. The dragons' tails waving the water created Bach Long Vi (present Tra Co Peninsula). 

Ha Long Bay covers the area of 1,553km² and encompasses 1,969 islands of various sizes which are mainly limestone islands with tectonic age from 250 million to 280 million years. The process of long geological evolution created the unique Ha Long Bay in the world with thousands of islands which look like fantastic sculptural and artistic works of various graceful shapes such as Canh Buom (Sail) Islet, Trong Mai (Cock and Hen) Islet, Lu Huong (Incense Burner) Islet… All of them are vivid and soulful.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The first expedition to Son Doong Cave with ATA – Unrevealed stories!

On 28th Sep, 2011, carrying the eager to explore the grandeur of nature, the first travelers together with ATA’s product manager – Mr. Tony Tran had launched the discovery to Son Doong Cave, the biggest cave in the world.

Accompany with the group is Mr. Ho Khanh who found the Son Doong Cave as a tour guide. The first meet with Mr. Ho Khanh really impressed everyone. Just a warm smile, a strong handshake from him is enough to make everyone feel warm at heart. At Ho Khanh ‘s house, the group had the moments of relax with green tea, a simple lunch with steamed rice cake and salted peanut and an open conversation. All of that was promising for a memorable journey.

Mr. Ho Khanh in old costume of troop

The first obstacle for the group is leaches. They are everywhere and all in hungry for blood. It was really a nightmare at first but as time passes, the scare was fade when everyone got used to them and they weren’t the obstacle anymore. In the deep jungle under shade, the expedition team followed jungle trails that on limestone Mountains to the Swallow Cave.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mai Chau Homestay Trek Was So Much Better Than I Ever Imagined

"A buddy and I did 10 days in Northern Vietnam and wanted to get a few days of hiking in. We opted for ATA's 4-day Mai Chau Homestay. Mr. Hai picked us up at our backpacker's hostel with a private car and driver. Mr. Hai was very knowledgeable, had a great sense of humor, and spoke great English. The drive was quiet and comfortable, though uneventful as it was raining. 

When we reached Mai Chau, we stopped at the Homestay HQ where we were treated to a good 4-5 course meal and waited for our local guide, Thanh. Thanh did not speak a word of English, but was friendly and pleasant from the start. She would prove to be absolutely wonderful once the trip started. From Mai Chau, we took a short car ride to the beginning of the hike. 

We departed our transport and hiked to a Hmong village high in the mountains. Though it was still raining and chilly, the Hmong house was warm and comfortable. Right when we arrived, Thanh headed to the kitchen and began working over a wood fire. We quickly learned that this would be the norm, regardless of how long the hike was prior. The Hmong family pressed on with their day-to-day activities. At dinner time, Thanh delivered the first of several unbelievable meals. The typical dinner meal was about 7 courses with the freshest ingredients I've ever tasted. I can't begin to express how good the food was throughout the trip. The Hmong husband and wife joined us during the dinner and shared their company as well as their homemade corn wine with us.

The next morning, we were welcomed with a delicious breakfast. I can't recall what we ate on any particular day, but it ranged from noodle and vegetable dishes to omelets to banana pancakes. Fresh fruit was always served. The second day we hiked down the mountain to a black Thai village. The terrain was extremely slippery. With hindsight, I would probably have been much better off with a lightweight hiking shoe rather than a heavier boot. 

Vietnam: ethnic tourism among the valleys with no name

A typhoon had blown in during the day. White rain clouds lay like a boiling sea in the valleys, creating the illusion that the twisting mountain pass was an ocean road. As our vehicle turned a blind corner we came across a gaggle of motorcyclists, caped against the rain and gawping over the edge.

A Red Dao mother and child

A lorry had gone over while overtaking another lorry, trusting to a hard shoulder that had gone soft in the rain. Through the clouds we saw that the plummeting vehicle had ploughed a vertical groove of red earth in the sheer mountainside. Its roof was visible, a couple of hundred feet below.

Incredibly, the driver had just been hauled up alive and whisked off to hospital. As the men continued to stare, a woman in a beautiful and strange costume strode away from the scene as if in disgust. She was the reason we had come to this remote, mountainous region in the north of Vietnam, just 50 miles from the Chinese border.

Her distinctive look – black tunic and trousers embroidered with red-and-white patterned panels, red scarf and headdress – marked her out as a member of the Dao ethnic minority, one of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. The Viets are the biggest group, accounting for 86 per cent of the population and dominating mainstream culture. To varying extents, the remaining minorities lead marginalized lives, both culturally and geographically.

Most live in rural areas, growing rice, practicing slash-and-burn farming, keeping animals, making handicrafts, worshipping their ancestors and believing in spirits. Many still wear their distinctive, traditional dress – or at least the women do; men tend to go for the easy option and wear Western clothes these days – and this is part of what makes them especially intriguing and attractive to foreigners. Market days, when different groups come together in a throng of color and noise, are thrilling spectacles.

In recent years, tourism has cottoned on to this, and some minority communities have benefited by offering homestays and selling their beautiful textiles. This "ethnic tourism" is at its busiest in the old French hill station of Sapa, 150 miles north-west of Hanoi, where each year hundreds of thousands of trekkers and photographers pitch up via train and bus from the capital.

Hearing stories of commercialization and exploitation in Sapa, my partner and I had decided to hire a car, driver and guide and head instead to less-visited minority areas, culminating in the province of Ha Giang to the north-east of Sapa. Abutting the border with China, this province was the scene of heavy fighting with the Chinese in the Eighties; though it is now completely safe, tourism there remains undeveloped.

Hmong women in Sapa

Our goal, a cluster of ridges and valleys said to harbor the largest diversity of ethnic populations in Vietnam, is so little known by the outside world that it doesn't yet have a name. If I were a marketing person, charged with putting it on the map, I would name it after the high pass that is the main route into it.

The pass is called Cong Troi, which means Heaven's Gate. We crossed it shortly after passing the scene of the lorry accident. The landscape around us, glimpsed through the clouds, was indeed celestial – rice paddies cut into the hillsides that looked like the steps of Aztec temples, valleys plunging to hazy nothingness and waterfalls in noisy spate. Here, where many had seen white faces only on television, we were often as much objects of curiosity to the minority peoples as they were to us.

From Cong Troi we twisted down through clouds to the valley bottom and the village of Thong Nguyen, which serves a local population of about 5,000 living in the surrounding hills. Tourism has already arrived in a small way here – there's a French-owned lodge on the outskirts – and the village authorities are evidently fearful of what it may yet bring.

Using Pan Hou Lodge as a base, we spent the next two days trekking up into those shimmering green hills to visit remote communities perched on the lips of steepling rice paddies. In a Dao village we drank green tea beneath an old picture of Ho Chi Minh and then, inevitably, the woman who made it, with a baby in a sling on her back, submitted to photographs.

And that, of course, is the subtext of ethnic tourism. You come to gawp and click, to capture those eye-catching costumes and quaint customs in pixels. One woman I tried to photograph, with a mouth blackened by betel nut, covered her face, saying, "I am not beautiful any more. I look like a goat!"

I knew what she said because our guide translated. Having him around enabled us to enrich encounters that were inherently voyeuristic. And his life story, which he related in a series of chats over the week, provided great insight into the minority way of life.

On our visits to minority houses he would explain layouts and functions. The houses tend to be built on stilts, with motorbikes and chickens kept on the open ground floor and cooking and sleeping taking place on the enclosed first floor.

The Dao, of which there are several subgroups such as Red Dao and Long Dress Dao, live pretty hard and basic lives up in these mountains. One woman laughed at the idea of having a day off. "If we rest, nothing to eat," Son translated. Other communities are visibly more prosperous.

We had started our tour in the village of Mai Chau, a three-hour drive south-west of Hanoi, where the Mai Chau Lodge was the base for walks out to White Thai villages. Here, among gardens of jackfruit and banana, and fighting cocks in wicker cages, they sell textiles and offer homestays with Western lavatories and hot showers.

As thunder drummed on the surrounding hills, women toiled in the paddy fields, their conical hats periodically bobbing up to the surface of the rice (quick, photo!). Daily life here is still back-breaking, but not as tough as it once was, judging by the cars parked next to some of the stilt houses.

Between Mai Chau and Ha Giang Province we broke our journey at Thac Ba Lake, where La Vie Vu Linh Eco-Lodge is part of a long-term project aimed at rejuvenating the local minority culture. The lodge – jointly owned by a French-Vietnamese called Frédéric Tiberghien and a Dao family from the adjacent village – runs a school teaching cultural history, languages and hotel management to 15 or so children.

Vietnam's ethnic minorities had a particularly hard time of it following reunification, but projects like this give hope that their distinct ways of life can flourish. Tourism is certainly a vital part of the process. And it's not, of course, a one-way street. As Tiberghien said to me, "Next time you come to Vietnam, stay longer with the ethnic people. After two weeks, you will be amazed how similar you are."


ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA's recommented tours:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA announced to launch travel writing contest 2011 for travelers from across the world

The participants will have a chance to win special out-door trips by sharing their best holiday experiences in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia).
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA, a leading adventure tour operator in Indochina, has launched a travel writing contest 2011 for travelers from across the world.
The participants will have a chance to win special out-door trips by sharing their best holiday experiences in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia)
The participants are encouraged to write about their interesting stories, nice memories or any impressive experiences that made the holidays to be the time of their lives.
The winner will receive a trip for 2 persons costing from $700-->$1000 depend on their selections of out door activities including Trekking, Cycling, Motorcycling, Kayaking in wide areas of Indochina.
The entries can be made by email to in 350 - 1000 words and must be original works of the participants along with the entrant’s name, e-mail and telephone number by 20th October 2011.
All eligible entries will be posted on ATA’s facebook page and 2 travel news sites Activetravel Magazines & Vietnam Adventure News. The winner is the entry that has the amount of LIKE ranked highest on facebook page plus on 2 travel news sites.
The winner will receive the prize based on their selection of out door activities such as: Kayaking Halong Bay, Motorcycling Ho Chi Minh Trail, Trekking Luang Prabang, Cycling Angkor Wat…
These tours are designed especially for 2 persons, costing from $700 - $1000. This must be a memorizable exploration & real experience of lifetime
3 incentive prizes are also available for 3 entries ranked following the winner. The prize is a city tour with the private tour guide for 2 people plus some valuable extra.
For full details of information, please visit: The ATA Travel WritingCompetition 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vietnam Cat Tien National Park Recognized Global Biosphere Reserve

On 30 June 2011, the United Nations added 18 new sites to its global list of biosphere reserves, bringing the total to 581 in 114 different countries, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported.

Cat Tien is the new name of the former Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve in Viet Nam, which was designated in 2001. Two new core zones have been added to the site, bringing its total area to 966,563 hectares. Cat Tien National Park covers the area of Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc Provinces in southern Vietnam. Cat Tien National Park is 15km north of Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon).

Biosphere reserves are places recognized by MAB (The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme ) where local communities are actively involved in governance and management, research, education, training and monitoring at the service of both socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. They are thus sites for experimenting with and learning about sustainable development.

Soure: travelnewsnow 

Tour Trekking Nam Cat Tien National Park with ActiveTravel Asia, at:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Riding Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh trail

The mountain paths of the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail offer visitors to Vietnam an adventurous alternative to the well-worn coastal route - especially if you travel on the back of a motorbike

It was more like a hamlet than a village. A simple collection of stilted wooden houses perched on the side of a mountain overlooking seemingly-endless rows of rice terraces, but even after a long and tiring day on the back of a motorbike passing through startling terrain it was hard not to be caught breathless by its isolation and beauty in the twilight.
Rows of rice terraces are a continual feature on any ride through northern Vietnam.

The primitive village of Ban Hieu is inaccessible except by motorbike or on foot – it's up a long, steep and winding two-metre-wide dirt path flanked on one side by a sheer drop into the paddy fields far below. It was precisely the reason I had set off the previous day along paths once used by the Vietcong to deliver weapons and supplies to the armies fighting in the south during the Vietnam war.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail has always been the stuff of legends, a seemingly endless number of backwater paths and trails that started near Hanoi and ran almost 1,000 miles down the length of the country, crossing into Laos at several points, and ending near Saigon (today's Ho Chi Minh City) where it deposited weapons into the hands of the communist guerrillas fighting against US and Southern Vietnamese forces.

While most visitors to Vietnam travel the well-worn coastal road, I had set out the day before from Hanoi, along with a friend and our mechanic/guide, on the back of three sturdy Russian Minsks, heading south on what would be a three-day bike trip following less well-developed and at times almost non-existent roads. (This would allow me to do part of the northern section, though not enough time to complete the whole route, which takes upwards of 14 days.)

A local rides through paddy fields in Hoa Binh province, northern Vietnam.

With little chance to dwell on the fall and already far from civilization, I had simply but shakily climbed back on the bike and, following Dang Van Diep, our smiling, non-English-speaking mechanic, soldiered on.

An hour later the fall was already far from my mind as I emerged for the first time from a patch of mountain fog to look down upon the vast, green landscape of rural Vietnam stretching out before me.

The view would repeat itself regularly over the next few days (and would never cease to thrill) as our small convoy climbed and descended thin mountain paths, crossed through knee-deep rivers, and rode through dozens of isolated villages of smiling and waving children. All the while we were flanked by miles upon miles of muddy rice paddies filled with young and old women cultivating the land by hand as they and their ancestors have done for centuries.

I soon found a simple but beautiful monotony in riding through these lush green areas, with long hours between stops passing in a meditative blink of the eye. Yet by the end of each day, as the strain of holding firm to the throttle as the bikes bounced over rock and skidded through mud, thoughts of that night's accommodation slowly crept into our minds.

The Russian-made motorbikes outside the homestay in the village of Ban Hieu.

We spent the first night in Mai Chau, a scenic village without roads 135km from Hanoi that is quickly being discovered by tourists looking for somewhere off the beaten path.. That night, after 10 hours on the bikes, we arrived at the truly isolated Ban Hieu.

A village of a few dozen families, an hour by motorbike from the nearest community with a shop, and inaccessible by car, it felt like a forgotten land. The manmade rice terraces – irrigated by intricate bamboo piping snaking down the hillside – and other human intrusions all felt in harmony with nature, and in the miles upon miles of land spread out before us, no city, town, or even single human dwelling was in sight.

Our smiling hosts were already pouring hot water for us and preparing food and beds for the night as I returned.

The following day at dawn we started our journey back north, reaching the noisy and crowded streets of Hanoi by nightfall. Despite one bad fall, aching limbs and over 300-plus miles of dirt trails on the back of a relic of the Soviet Union, it was hard not to turn the bike around and head back out to continue down the trail southwards.

• Hire motorbikes and all-inclusive organized tours can be arranged through tour companies such as Ride Ho Chi Minh Trail (

Recommended tours:

Taste of Ho Chi Minh Trail
Motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Half Challenge


Friday, July 29, 2011

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA organizes the first trip to discover Son Doong cave for travelers

At the end of Sep, 2011, the first trip for travelers to discover SON DOONG, the world’s largest cave will be implemented by ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA. Mr. Ho Khanh, who is the first person to find the entrance to cave will be the tour leader of this adventure group.

The lucky tourist group is from Australia, they are researching scientists from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries in Australia. This group of four is going to take 3 days 2 nights to explore parts of the cave system where the regular tourists are still not allowed to go.

This trip not only brings the real experience but also is a challenge for tourists when they take 3 day trekking and 2 night camping in the cave.

Son Doong cave (meaning Mountain River Cave) is a cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam. The cave is located near the Laos-Vietnam border. 

It was first discovered by a local in 1991 (Mr.Ho Khanh), and surveyed by the British Cave Research Association from April 10 to April 14, 2009. According to the survey team, Son Doong is the Earth's largest known cave passage at present. It is more than 200 meters wide, 150 meters high, and at least 6.5 kilometers long, though the explorers said they were unable to explore it fully. 

With these information, Son Doong is much larger than Deer Cave in Malaysia, currently considered the world's largest, an explorer said (Deer is 90 meters wide, 100 meters high and 2 kilometers long). The Son Doong cave has replaced to take pole position as the world's largest cave.

Son Doong is formed by a system of grottos, flowing underground rivers, giant walls and deep lakes. In the 200m high arch of the cave, the sight is extremely magnificent with images of the Eden in the grotto, stalactites giant wall or the collection "Pearls" with thousands of years. The grandeur of the nature is really unbelievable.

“Son Doong Cave is the masterpiece of nature. It is the must-see destination once in a lifetime for those who love adventure”, Mr.Tony Tran – The product manager of ATA said. He also added: “I will join the first group in the expedition to Son Doong Cave this September”, showed his excitement about the next coming trip.

With ATA holding the adventure tour to Son Doong Cave will give travelers the chance to explore the world largest cave and see the magnificent beauty of nature. It also marked ATA as the first company organizes the tour to discover Son Doong cave.

Source of Photos: National Geographic

Ha Noi - Dong Hoi – Phong Nha-Ke Bang – Son Doong Cave – Chay Lap – Vinh Moc – Hue
5 days with 3 day trekking & 2 night camping
Grade: Moderate
Head office: Floor 12 Building 45 Nguyen Son street, Long Bien district, Hanoi, Vietnam
Operation office: 367 Ngo Quyen St., Son Tra Dist., Da Nang
Operation office: 108 Le Lai St., Dist. 1, HCMC
Support number: (04) 3 573 8569

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ba Be National Park, Vietnam – The beautiful Ramsar of the world

Ba Be Lake, the most important part of Ba Be National Park which forms the unique natural beauty in this area has just become the 1,938th Ramsar of the world and the third Ramsar of Vietnam following Xuan Thuy National Park in Nam Dinh Province and Cat Tien National Park in Dong Nai Province.

Located in Bac Kan province, about 300km from Hanoi capital, Ba Be lake is a highlight of northwest forest of Vietnam. Surrounding by limestone hills of up to 500-600 m above sea level, the lake consists of three parts, Pe leng, Pe lu and Pe lam of which the total length is 9 km, the width changes between 0.2 km and 1.7km and the average depth varies from 17 to 23 m (maximum depth reaching 38 m). 

 The beautiful Ba Be Lake

The Ba Be Lake is connected with the Nang River by Be Cam Channel, to which the water drains during the dry season. The lake thus serves as a natural reservoir for the Nang River system, while the Dau Dang Waterfall plays a role of dam for the lake.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seduced by Luang Prabang, Laos

We traveled here for four days: my wife and the girls plus my wife’s mom and husband, visiting from America. It was the last leg of their three-week visit to Southeast Asia and it didn’t disappoint.

Speaking with Andrew, the owner (who’s originally from Melbourne) he told me that one reason Luang Prabang has managed to retain its soul is that the people here are so proud of their culture, that they work hard to preserve it.

Old and new converge in Luang Prabang, Laos.
It shows. It’s a walkable town, although it’s also easy to grab one of the colorful tuk tuks, those covered motorcycle trucks with bench seats that are painted in a rainbow of colors. Male monks in saffron robes pace next to flash packing tourists. It’s a strange juxtaposition of the ancient and modern.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cambodia off the beaten track

Mention you’re going to Cambodia and chances are you’ll end up comparing notes on the glorious temples of Angkor, among the most awe-inspiring – indeed, mind-blowing – monuments ever conceived by the human mind.

It is hardly surprising that so many travelers from around the globe dream of gazing upon the towers of Angkor Wat, walking through the root-strangled gateways of Angkor Thom, and staring back at the enigmatic smiling faces that have made the Bayon famous.

Friday, June 10, 2011

USA today recommends adventure travel tours to Cambodia


Trekking in Cambodia offers a chance to meet local residents and experience the countryside firsthand. Active Travel Cambodia offers a trip called Trek Rattanakiri that features walking on jungle paths and on roads through towns. Rattanakiri is a rural area in northeast Cambodia known for its natural beauty, and trip activities include swimming in the shadow of pristine waterfalls. You also camp in villages and enjoy cultural interactions with ethnic minority tribes.

Trekking Rattanakiri

If you love the water, you can take a kayaking trip with companies such as Adventure-Cambodia. Tours range from one-day to multi-day outings. One trip features bird watching as you kayak on wetlands in the north, and others involve jungle or ocean kayaking. On an ocean trip, you kayak to islands, snorkel and stay in a beach bungalow. Adventure-Cambodia also has multi-sport tours that combine activities such as kayaking and trekking or kayaking and bike riding.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NHK TV to broadcast Son Doong cave reportage - The largest cave in the world

Japan’s NHK World TV will broadcast on June 25 a 3D scientific reportage on Vietnam ’s Son Doong cave, which is classified as the largest cave in the world.

NHK TV’s broadcast will reach 60 countries around the world, according to the Foreign Affairs Department of the central province of Quang Binh , where Son Doong cave was found.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Green stamp on jungle style

In a country best known for its temples, Jane Dunford finds a floating ecolodge that's a gateway to a pristine environment.

I am, it's fair to say, in the middle of nowhere. This is the Tatai River, east of Koh Kong, in the southern reaches of Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains. Halfway between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, this is a pristine area of rainforest and coastal mangroves that barely features on the tourist trail.

Vietnam where I saw the most beautiful

In your eyes, where the place Vietnam most beautiful? Our questions are foreign photographer responded with these images upset: the picture angle is so simple that with them – people from a distance – that’s where most Vietnam features. And more beautiful images are to carry the most emotional story.

Surface of the Ba Be Lake

Of all the places I’ve been to in Vietnam, causing nowhere and touched fresh my soul with Ba Be Lake that day. That day, we went back a video with beautiful images of Vietnam, suddenly there are six women in traditional costumes of the Tay is smooth sailing on the lake near where we shoot. So glad we invited two people to model for us. Do not hesitate, despite the weather and the director asked to turn back, return, the two women still try to smile real big to get the best picture for us.

Back now though Ba Be lake many times since taking this picture, it’s hard to see the picture of Tay people wearing traditional dress here, but the image of two women always keep on smiling and generous in my mind. And so I found from Vietnam’s most beautiful places.

Love letter S

First time visit to Chau Doc on the west region, I saw the beauty of the season rice area Ta Pa of Tri Ton distance Chau Doc by 20km. Sitting on the scenery from the hills, I’m ecstatic in front of a vast field of golden wheat and blue layers. After 5-10 minutes, I saw a big tree and a very impressive way, S-shaped drawing up of Vietnam’s beloved. And the assiduous of mothers with heavy two shoulders quietly away in the rice fields have suggested in my real passions.

Fun time

In Sapa, when not in school, the Mong baby help parents sell traditional gifts such as handmade wallet, or souvenirs made from raw materials to earn in the forest. With no guests, the children play by holding the interesting folk game like me takes refreshment stalls in this way. The box game, jump rope, hopscotch is very attractive because despite differences in culture, history and language of our childhood also experienced moments like this.

To Vietnam, I discovered a number of major cities, but where I enjoy most Sapa. I myself moved from noisy Saigon, bustling Hanoi, on the misty highlands full of SaPa. And to come here, I have the impression of a land of fun colorful culture. Price as cultural identity to be kept here forever; do not fade over months on…

Peddled wares

One night, I was lost in the small streets of Hanoi. I have ventured to ask the way woman selling rice vermicelli in the lane. She is busy with scoop each bowl of noodles to visitors, who sit around waiting for food, has always urged her out but she still put bowl down, pointing the way for my guidance. She was laughing and everyone around you is laughing. I feel quietly pleased.

I have read somewhere that the sidewalk food in Vietnam is very interesting. And to come here, I discovered something new again. Sidewalk food in Vietnam is not only interesting because of the abundance of spices, but also by the friendliness of the people. Yes, delicious food around us when there is sincere.

Marking time

Old cars on the famous Hang Ngang in Hanoi. Features blends old and new are always giving me good feelings. I appreciate what goes through but also to the future. Hanoi thousand years of beautiful and graceful as the morning fog in Hoan Kiem Lake and spread around, covering the tree-lined streets, the crowded streets, the cone course, lakes and parks. With dozens of pagodas, communal houses, temples hidden away, with restaurants in the street find their ancient flavor, this city deserves to anyone taking the time to explore the treasures in the quiet, peaceful and forget the loud sounds, speakers, and the sound of motorcycle engines are everywhere.

I have had countless times and went walking along the horizontal motorcycle cities are constantly expanding this. But Hanoi’s Old Quarter is always deep in my heart.

Truong Tien Bridge

As I was walking on Truong Tien Bridge (Hue), a cyclo runs and the children shouted “Hello.” I also see this scene, this smile, and these greetings across Vietnam, but where I come across. Dumplings car by pushing the older woman on the bridge also reminds me something interesting: great food in Vietnam, despite enjoying the sidewalk.

I took this picture with a new discovery, an assertion is true about my country than I have been engaged for several years: Truong Tien bridge not Trang Tien as I (and many) each mistake.

Morning kiss

Morning, the floating markets near Long Xuyen (An Giang province), the boat carrying a man and a woman to visit a surfing boat light food. Between the noises of passing ships, my dear man I call: “Hello, hello.” When I raised the camera up, linked arm in arm across his neck woman hugged and kissed a bit. The woman hesitated; perhaps the first time she was married midst of people should blush, only laughed. I love this moment, I like Vietnamese people, so sincere. I saw Vietnamese little kiss at crowded places, but so do not mean they can not show love.

An Giang women
The people that I met in Me Kong River Delta were sincere, generous. Especially river man met me always ready to offer a glass as if had known each other for so long.

Source: xinchaovietnam

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Active Travel Asia Launches Great Vietnam & Cambodia Summer Promotion 2011

Active Travel Asia (ATA) is offering Great Summer Promotion 2011 in Vietnam and Cambodia. These promotions are guaranteed by luxurious adventure tours, add-on values and reasonable prices.

Active Travel Asia kicks off Special Summer Promotion 2011 covering all kinds of adventure tours include trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking and family adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia. All promoted tours are in Vietnam (, Cambodia ( and three others between Vietnam and Cambodia ( Depend on the value of tours; travelers are got special value-added services.

With this promotion is starting from May, 1st to Sep, 31st 2011, ATA guarantees the best Vietnam and Cambodia travel packages with good prices as well as attractive add-on values as below:
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA under US$ 300, ATA offers free visa approval letter.
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA from over US$ 301 to US$ 1000, ATA offers free visa letter, free water Puppet Show and free 2-hr rickshaw guided tour in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA from over US$ 1000 to US$ 2000, ATA offers free visa letter, Free water Puppet Show +and free half-day guided city tour.
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA from over US$ 2000, ATA offers free visa on arrival, free airport transfer (2 ways) and free guided half-day city tour.
  • This promotion is applied for group size from minimum 1 person to maximum 4 persons. If group is bigger than 4 persons, the promotion for 4 people is applied for the group.
  • This promotion is applied for booking from May, 1 to Sep, 31
The promotion provides travelers real experiences in hidden Indochina (Cambodia and Vietnam travel) with add-on valued services. This makes it suitable all types of groups and those who love any kind of adventure activities.

For the whole Summer Promotion of Cambodia and Vietnam Tours, please refer to or contact ATA at

With the add–on values from this Great Summer Promotion 2011 of ATA, the hesitance will be replaced by the smart decision from who are exited in traveling and getting more real experience.

# # #

ACTIVE TRAVEL ASIA (ATA) is established in 2006 and has grown to become one of the Indochina's leading adventure travel companies. ATA offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A 'Junk' Trip in Vietnam

I hunkered in the doorway of an office building as gray clouds moved in, threatening to break open above me. Piles of luggage were stacked in the doorway, but I held tightly to my backpack. As a solo traveler making my way through Vietnam, I had yet to let someone else touch my bag, the essence of my livelihood halfway around the world.

Earlier that morning I had taken a hired car from Hanoi to the coast of Vietnam. This part of the country, known as Halong Bay, was rumored to be tacky and touristy, so I opted instead to head straight for the water.

In fact, most travelers come to Halong Bay for one thing: To tour the bay by junk. These pirate-looking ships generally hold anywhere from a single couple to several dozen people, depending on the boat and tour operator.

Cruises at Halong Bay, Vietnam
Of the nearly 2,000 islands in Halong Bay, only about 300 of them have names. These sheer-faced rocks, covered with luscious trees and foliage, rise out of nowhere in the sea. Apparently birds, snakes, and monkeys live on them, but I can’t imagine that much else does.

As the junk floated among the islands, I sat on the top deck; my legs dangling over the edge of the boat, watching the world recede behind us. The warm, humid air sat heavy on my shoulders, and the dark green of the islands reflected onto the rough surface of the water despite the overcast sky. I felt like we were cruising through a waterlogged version of Jurassic Park.

We piled into the day cruiser that was pulled alongside the junket. One of the boat hands steered the craft toward Công Ðâm. The village “chief” greeted us, poured lukewarm tea into a set of chipped mugs and answered our questions about his home. This, the second largest fishing village in the bay, is only inhabited by 163 people.

As we floated in boats paddled by women in the village, I watched daily life on the water. Dogs lounged on the porches; wet clothes hung from the eves above makeshift porches that surrounded colorful homes sitting atop big plastic barrels.

Fishing village in Halong Bay
Despite rain, we set out in kayaks the next morning. I’d been kayaking in calm, clear waters before, but the rough conditions and inclement weather made the paddling tough, despite the fact that I was sharing a boat with Ahn, our guide, who kayaked several times a week.

He muscled our boat between the outcroppings as I feigned my attempt to help power the boat. Several times we stopped the kayak, rain pouring down, waiting for the others to catch up.

The next morning, our final day in the bay, I awoke to a bright sun and clear sky. The emerald foliage of the outcroppings was painted a surprising shade of brilliant green, which reflected in the water like a flat mirror.

We hopped in the kayaks and paddled to a small island with a large cave. The opening on the island was heavily trafficked.

And so we moved through the cave, trying to guess Ahn’s made-up formations quickly so we could get back in the sun.

Source: volumeone

Sunday, May 15, 2011

From the Back Seat: Memories on a Motorcycle in Vietnam

Riding a motorbike from the North to the South of Vietnam was an amazing experience. Now, while I didn’t ride the motorcycle on myself (Anthony did an amazing job!) it is still something that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Each day we were faced with new challenges and amazing sights making the journey all the more incredible. I think what made it so momentous was the simple fact that we were in control of where we wanted to go on the trip. It didn’t have to be governed by train and bus timetables (how we normally get from A to B). We were able to stop anywhere we wanted to and take our time to stop and smell the rice paddies!

It was hard to pinpoint my favorite memories, but for anyone thinking of doing a trip similar to this, I hope this post inspires you! It was an amazing journey and loved every minute of it!

Rice Paddies
Rice fields in Vietnam
I had always wanted to see the bright green rice paddies that I seen in so many photos and our time in Vietnam I defiantly got what I asked for! We would ride for hours and hours through countless rice paddy fields, each one greener than the last. The fluorescent color of the neat fields would be on either side of us. We stopped often just to stare at the endless plains of the newly growing rice.

Road Butterflies

When we were riding on the Ho Chi Minh Road, there would be stretches of the trail where hundreds of butterflies would flutter up from the road and surrounding trees and shrubs. We would sometimes find ourselves riding through almost hundreds of them-I felt like I was in the forests of Narnia! Anthony said they were just moths but I still protest that they were beautiful butterflies just fluttering by!

Iced Tea

A common drink in Vietnam is Iced Tea or Tra Da, and it quickly became our favorite drink to rehydrate with whilst on the road. Rather than being a sweet tea it is usually just green tea or another kind of herbal tea with ice added. So thirst quenching and refreshing!

We would stop at little roadside cafes regularly to grab one of these cheap and satisfying drinks. Many a time the owners would continually top up our glasses with a big grin. They seemed to be so proud to serve us.

At one town, Kham Duc we stopped in and got ourselves tea from a family. Minutes later the wife brought out some freshly baked teacake for us to eat with cream-scrumptious! We had about three glasses of tea each and chatted to the family in broken English.

When we were ready to leave and went to pay they would not take our money. No matter how much we plead with them, they would not take our cash. This was true Vietnamese hospitality that we had experienced and were so grateful for.
Motorcycling in Ho Chi Minh trails, Vietnam
Getting Dirty

One day we were taking our motorbike through the countryside around Hue so we could independently visit some tombs and mountains. Since I was in charge of the map it was my job to get us to where we wanted to go. Bumping along a dirt road I soon realized we were going the wrong way and the actual track was on the opposite side of rice fields. We sloshed our way slowly through. We weren’t hurt-just dirty, but that didn’t stop us from continuing the day to see the tombs!

Being on the open road in Vietnam was unbelievable. Noisy at times, busy most of the time but such a great trip. We did over 3500km in the two months we were there. I love thinking that in years to come I can look back on my trip with Anthony on our trusty ‘Bullet’ and have great stories to tell the Grandkids!

Find our more Vietnam motorcycling videos here

Source: positiveworldtravel

Friday, May 13, 2011

Luang Prabang: The Epithet of Laotian History, Culture and Nature

Formed at the convergence of the famous Mekong and Kahn rivers in Laos, the town of Luang Prabang is the archetypal product of when colonial and traditional architecture collide. Groomed in pristine fashion, one would think he is the first to discover this exotic landscape.

Palm trees line the riverside, as the spires of divine stupas protrude through the trees, and all while in the company of Buddha’s servants.

Above ground level, the views will take your breath away as the landscape proudly shows off its mountainous terrain. As you weave through hiking grounds blessed doused in nature’s beauty, one cannot help but act with acquiescence as you discover serene tropical nooks and tranquil waterfalls.

Luang Prabang is a place where sights, sounds and curiosity guide your adventure , and when it’s all said and done, and you’ve moved on, yields a memory you will never forget. Below are a few places you won’t want to miss seeing.

Vat Xieng Toung

One of the more popular sites in Laos, Vat Xieng Toung (Temple of the Golden City) also serves as one of the country’s most important landmarks, having been built by King Setthathirat in the 16th-century supposedly on the site where the first stone was lain in the newly founded Luang Prabang.

Today, the temple resides surrounded by a majestic garden along the Mekong River. It is ornamented by a gilded door, mosaics, and stories etched in gold leaf telling the tale of the now-famous Laotian town.

Haw Kham Royal Palace

The other major historical building in town is Haw Kham Royal Palace (Golden Hall) formally that of King Sisavang Vong and his heirs before the monarchy was abolished during the height of communism. Today a statue of the king adorns the palace grounds, as well as the palace’s most important statue, the Pha Bang Buddha image, made almost entirely of pure gold.

Haw Kham Palace

Built in both French and Laotian style architecture, the palace takes on the shape of a cruciform and inside provides arts, paintings, statues, and murals of traditional Laotian life, and history, and of course, symbolizes the lives of Laotian royalty.

For an added bonus, make your way to the top of Mount Phousi, where you can take in perhaps the greatest view of the palace.

Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls

For all that is great about the town of Luang Prabang, the allure of this most beautiful destination is not just in its history and architecture, but its nature as well. Located about 19 miles (30 km) from town lies the Tat Kuang Si waterfalls, a virtual paradise away from civilization.

You can hike the multi-tiered falls and take a dip in the blue waters at your leisure just be careful, it is quite cold. Along your way, stopover at the sun bear sanctuary, where caretakers watch over bears saved from poachers.

Pak Ou Caves

One of the most interesting and unique natural locations in the area are the Pak Ou Caves. Located about 15.5 miles (25 km) north from town, the caves reside over the Mekong, and are well-known for their diversely positioned Buddha sculptures, overlooking the river. (The sculptures were donated by the local population as the caves were once used as a shrine.)

Pak Ou Cave Buddhas

The caves are categorically divided into two levels, the lower (Tham Ting), located about 50 feet (15.24 m) above water level, and the upper (Tham Theung), which without a flashlight is extremely difficult to navigate. Once you are able to climb your way into the upper level, light a few candles surrounding the shrines and observe the almost quixotic beauty of Buddha silhouettes formulated on the cave walls.

The entrance to the caves is easily spotted and is accessible from the riverside. The most practical and scenic way to get to the caves is by boat from Luang Prabang, although a newly built road from town can also get you there.

>> Trekking to Pak Ou cave

Source: travelleradvise

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Look into Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site and it really deserves the designation. It is one of the most exciting unusual places I have been to in my life.

Halong Bay -Halong meaning “Descending Dragon”- is named after the thousands of island with bizarre rock formations and limestone cliffs that are within the Gulf of Tonkin, in the north shores of Vietnam. It is composed of more than 3000 islands of all shapes and forms, covered in green vegetation and protruding from the ocean’s surface.

If you are a nature lover, this place will enchant you with its many awe striking sites, and majestic natural composition.

Halong Bay's Sculptures
Halong Bay has plenty of grottos created by the wind and the emerald water of the gulf; it is a beautiful example of the effect wind and water erosion has on the landscape.

Among the sculptured islands and rock formations, Halong Bay also hides many deserted tinny white sand beaches that you can visit by boat, stop and enjoy for a while. In these locations you’ll be surrounded by nothing but nature.

A wonderful aspect of Halong Bay is that it has so many islands and rock pillars that every turn comes up with a surprise: another astounding sculpture, a perfect archway through the mountains, a peaceful lagoon where you can Kayak and enjoy the scenery……

Kayaking at Halong Bay
Another curiosity of Halong Bay is that, while sailing through it, you will occasionally come across floating fishing camps that are stationed in the middle of nowhere and are also an interesting site.

I was in Halong Bay during the rainy season, it fortunately didn’t rain but there was a lot of fog and the sun hid on and off behind the passing clouds. I reckon April would be a better month: no clouds, no fog; plus, when the sun shines and illuminates the Bay, it comes to glow in its entire colorful splendor.

I reserved my boat trip in the hotel I was staying in Hanoi and the service was very good. I had a cozy little cabin with a queen size bed and private bathroom in a wooden double decker old fashioned boat, with a windowed dining room from which you could appreciate the view and a deck to enjoy the fresh air; just perfect.

Halong Bay's Most Impressive Grotto
The boat tour will probably take you to the most visited grotto in Halong Bay, a massive cave formation on top of one of the mountain-islands. It is a cave complexly sculpted by the forces of nature. The ceiling, walls and floor are covered in stalactites, stalagmites and all sorts of strange formations. The cavern is well illuminated for one to fully appreciate the splendor of this majestic piece of art.

Cat Ba Island

The Boat Tour through Halong Bay includes an overnight stay in Cat Ba Island, the only populated island of them all. Cat Ba has a little town of about thirteen thousand plus inhabitants and nice long beaches, where you can swim, take nice walks, sit back and relax, or enjoy a sea side meal. But most importantly, Cat Ba Island is home to Cat Ba National Park, where hiking, trekking and/or biking are a pleasant way to explore the local flora and fauna.

Source: hubpages
Recommended tours:
Kayaking Halong Bay
Trekking Cat Ba National Park and Kayaking Lan Ha Bay & Halong Bay