Phu Quoc – The Black Pearl of South Vietnam

How many places in the world can you watch the sunrise and sunset in the same spot?

The answer is not many. The popular (and perhaps much commercialized choice) would be Kanyakumari beach, located in the southern-most part of mainland India. Here, two seas and one ocean meet, creating a point of great geographical significance.

But did you know that there’s also a place in Vietnam where you can enjoy such spectacular view?

Ông Đội point
Source: Sun Group

That’s right! It’s situated in Phú Quốc island in Southern Vietnam, at Ông Đội Point. Only 45 minutes by plane from Hồ Chí Minh City and 2 hours and 10 minutes from Hà Nội, Phú Quốc has quickly evolved from a relatively unknown and often overlooked island to one of the most popular holiday destinations in Vietnam. Yet, despite the flocks of tourists and the many luxurious resorts built over the past few years, the island still retains its original charm and natural beauty.

Phú Quốc was first discovered in the 17th century by a Chinese family from Guangzhou, who later pledged loyalty to the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam. It is the biggest island of Vietnam, boasting its own fresh water source and diverse terrains – including mountains, tropical jungles, pristine beaches, lagoons and barrier reefs.

Ông Đội point, where you can watch both the sunrise and the sunset in the same spot, is only one in the many fantastical scenery Phú Quốc has to offer. So what else can you do when you’re here?

1. Visit pepper farms and fish sauce factory:

The island is most famous for its peppers and fish sauce. Trust me, both of these are out of this world.

Phú Quốc pepper farm
Source: thegioihoinhap.vn

You can select tours that will take you to pepper farms, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about pepper trees and just about every type of peppers that has ever existed in this world. There are black peppers, grey peppers, white peppers and green peppers, to name a few. Phú Quốc peppers have forever ruined me from enjoying peppers at anywhere else.

Source: bookingphuquoc.com

Often included in these tours are there visits to traditional warehouses where the islanders make and store fish sauce in large barrels. You’ll get to drink fish sauce straight from the tap and learn the process of making fish sauce from the masters themselves. Fish sauce is the nectar of the gods and these islanders have perfected the art of creating it.

2. Enjoy amazing seafood at Dinh Cậu Night Market:
Source: Hanoi Tours

It’s not Vietnam if there’s no night market at some point. I have been to many night markets in different cities in Vietnam, from those high up in the mountains, or nestled in the midst of bustling metropolises, to those situated in charming seaside towns; however, none has yet to surpass the one I visited in Phú Quốc (with perhaps the exception of Đà Lạt, but that’s another story altogether.)

Located in the heart of Dương Đông Town on Võ Thị Sáu Street, Dinh Cậu Market only operates from 19h00 to 23h00. It is easily accessible and the best part is that you don’t have to remember the address or trying (hopelessly) to look it up on Google map. Just tell the taxi driver where you want to go and you’ll be there in the blink of an eye.

Now, if you’re a seafood fanatic like I am, then this will be a heaven for you. The stalls at this market boast a range of every imaginable seafood, from fishes, prawns, lobsters, crabs, to exotic looking creatures that might look dubious at first glance but will be sure to blow your mind. Everything is made fresh and perfectly seasoned. Grab a table, enjoy the food and have a few beers to go with it – you know you deserve it 😉

3. Swim on some of the best beaches in the world:

Okay, I digress – I might be a tad biased when it comes to this, but it certainly feels like some of the best beaches in the world to me. The good thing about Phú Quốc is that since it is a huge island, it has not only one but several beaches that you can visit, all unique in their own ways.

source: dulich24

Located 25km away from Dương Đông Town is Bãi Sao Beach, arguably Phú Quốc’s best. It has pristine white sand that stretches on for miles in a half-moon curve, jaggy rock formation rising towards the sea and a myriad of activities like kayaking, surfing or diving.

If you prefer somewhere more quiet and less popular, you can head to Bãi Khem, nestled deep between the jungle of Phú Quốc. Here, you can visit a fishing village, sign up on a night trip to fish squid out in the sea or just enjoy a nice afternoon in the sun. Did I mention that Ông Đội point is right close by?

Another place you can consider for a visit is the beach on Hòn Móng Tay, a small island 14km away from Phú Quốc. It’s dubbed as the Maldives of Vietnam, only less commercialized and touristy. You can catch a canoe to this island from An Thới port in Phú Quốc.

So these are three of the things that you can do when you visit Phú Quốc. The island is easily accessible by plane from Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh city, as well as by ferry from Kiên Giang province. Phú Quốc is also only less than two hours away from Singapore, Bangkok and other Southeast Asian cities, making it a perfect location for either a long weekends, or a short holidays.

It is well-worth a visit, so what are you waiting for?

 

Top 4 Must-Check-In Places In Bac Lieu

Heading further southward from Can Tho, you’ll reach Bac Lieu – the land carrying the anecdote of the notorious Công Tử Bạc Liêu (Bac Lieu’s extravagant millionaires). Bac Lieu is also well known for its diverse nature, ethnic groups and cultures.

A bus trip from Ho Chi Minh city to Bac Lieu takes approximately 5,5 hours. It might seem quite a long road, but later on, after your arrivals, Bac Lieu’s favourite food and destinations will reimburse the long trip we’ve spent to visit this land. Now, please follow me, I will guide you through 4 must-visit destinations in Bac Lieu for photoholics.

>>>We will travel to Bạc Liêu in the end of July. If you are interested, please click here.

*Bac Lieu Wind Turbine Field

The turbine field belongs to Bac Lieu Wind Power Station. There are 62 wind turbines placed beyond the sea, connected by a bridge. Here, you can enjoy a spectacular sunset by the beach with lovely sea breeze running through your hair. Please notice that you might have to ask for permission to enter some turbines.  But don’t worry, you’ll receive a friendly nod from the guards. Now, it’s time to take some wonderful pictures.

Address: Ấp Biển Đông A, xã Vĩnh Trạch Đông. The field is 20km away from the centre.

instagram: @hoangphuongdo93
*Nhà Mát Beach

This is a muddy beach, the water is pinkish brown from mud and alluvium. The best time to visit the beach is at dawn when the fishermen catch fish and seafood. Since the water is quite shallow, you can walk very far from the shore. At 5 or 6 in the morning, you can ask to join in the seafood hunt with the fishermen. The work is hard, yet, fun and exciting. And the reward afterwards is the delicious dishes made from you hand-caught fresh products.

Fishers at the beach.
photo: gody.vn
*Hùng Vương Square

The square is open to public since 2014 and has become the favourite meeting point of Bac Lieu people. In the centre, there’s a big model of Đàn Kìm – a local string musical instrument commonly known as the symbol of Đờn Ca Tài Tử ( southern Vietnam singing arts). On the other side, there is also a sculpture of three arches representing the union of 3 peoples Kinh – Khmer – Chinese, by whom the diverse cultures of Bac Lieu are formed. A walk with your friends around the square in the evening gives you a relaxing moment before you head back to the hotel and enjoy a good sleep.

Address: Nguyễn Tất Thành, Phường 7, Bạc Liêu

Đàn Kìm statue at Hùng Vương square.
photo: vietnamtourism.com
*Three Nón Lá Theatre (Cao Văn Lầu Theatre)

The theatre is right next to Hùng Vương square. You can’t find another building more Vietnamese than this one. Now, I’m sure you’re familiar with nón lá (Vietnamese conical hat), the theatre wears three of them on its head, which makes a perfect shade against the merciless sunlight at noon.

The theatre is named after the famous song composer Cao Văn Lầu, who contributed many spectacular songs to Đờn Ca Tài Tử. It is the place that holds local theatre arts performance also a ‘museum’ that keeps pictures and documents of Cải Lương and Đờn Ca Tài Tử.

photo: foody.vn

>>>Make your journey to Bac Lieu complete by trying 6 Tasty Food You Should Try In Bac Lieu

Looks like we have made it through a long travel day. I hope you’ll get many wonderful pictures to fill in your travelling Vietnam collection. Feel free to send us your beautiful photos! We really appreciate your lovely moments with us. 

Levi. 

[Event] – Bac Lieu Weekend Trip: Meet The Dandy

Welcome you to our 7th travel – Bac Lieu, the hometown of many wealthy landlords of Southern Vietnam. This tour was particularly designed by a Bac Lieu local with the aim of offering the most local experiences for participants.

Situated next to the Southernmost province of Vietnam (Cà Mau) and 288km away from Hồ Chí Minh City, Bạc Liêu is such a charming countryside province of Mekong Delta awaiting to be explored by travellers. In this trip, the local identity can be learnt through paying a visit to

  • The French-styled House of Công Tử Bạc Liêu who was infamous for his lavishness,
  • A 130-year-old Khmer pagoda named Xiêm Cán Pagoda,
  • Nọc Nạn Historical Relic Site where the bloody battle between farmer brothers and the French took place,
  • Cao Văn Lầu Memorial House to honor the famous musician who composed the classic Cải lương song – Dạ Cổ Hoài Lang telling the the story of a wife awaiting her husband’s return from the battlefield,
  • Offshore Wind Farm which is the first one in Asia and has been operated since 2013,

And other destinations such as Hùng Vương Square, Nón Lá Theater, Tắc Sậy Church, Bạc Liêu Museum, etc.

We can have a chance to experience some of Bạc Liêu special dishes such as Bánh xèo (sizzling crepe,) Bún bò cay (spicy beef noodles soup,) Bún nước lèo (broth noodles) and many others which will be found in Bạc Liêu Night Market.

Anything else? Well, they are waiting for your own exploration.

Time: 27-29th July 2018
Schedule:

Fee:

The sooner your payment is, the higher promotion you get 😉

  • 27/06 – 06/07: 1,600,000VND ($70)
  • 07/07 – 20/07: 1,700,000VND ($74)
  • 21/07 – 25/07: 1,900,000VND ($83)

Including:

  • Two-way bus tickets
  • Entrance tickets
  • Rental motorbikes in 2 days
  • Hotel
  • Food & drinks, water
  • Tour guide fee

***Excluding: Other fees out of those above-mentioned things.

Cancellation Refund Policy:

If you cancel your registration, you will receive refund based on the time of your cancellation.

  • 27/06 – 06/07: Refund 90% of the total fee.
  • 07/07 – 13/07: Refund 60% of the total fee.
  • 14/07 – 20/07: Refund 30% of the total fee.
  • 21/07 – 27/07: No refund.
Registration Process:

Step 1. Register by filling in the form below.

https://goo.gl/forms/dPQe3NbyGPnuOIWX2

Step 2. Complete your payment via:

***Bank Transfer: The information of bank account will be sent to you via email.

***Direct Payment:

Contact Minh Nguyen

  • Phone: 01666725720
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minhvuongainguyen

***Your registration will only be counted after completing your payment.

Before registration, please read the following terms carefully.

1/ In each trip, there is a main guide who is in charge of planning, arranging everything, contacting people, and guiding during the trip. The guide cooperates with us via the Local Supporters Program. All of the expenses of the guide will be shared among other participants in the trip. That’s why in your fee including the fee for the guide. The guide of this trip is Vuu Bich Tram.

If you agree with the above-mentioned term and feel interested in the trip, register ASAP! First come first served. Please fill in the the form below.

>>>Check out our photo galleries of previous trips

Xiem Can Pagoda (Photo source: Andre Luo)
Non La Theater (Photo Source: yesgo.vn)
Hung Vuong Square (Photo source: mytour.vn)
Offshore Wind Farm (Photo source: vietnammoi.vn)
Prince of Bac Lieu House (Photo source: Wikipedia)
Bun nuoc leo
Bun bo cay

 

Côn Đảo – from “Hell on Earth” to “Tourist Paradise”

Côn Đảo Islands is an archipelago and also a district of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province in the Southeastern region of Vietnam. Located at about 185 km from Vũng Tàu and 230 km from Hồ Chí Minh city, the group includes 16 mountainous islands and islets whose total land area is about 75.15 km2 with 16 islands and the local population is roughly 5,000.
Photo: Vietsense Travel

The islands’ largest island, Côn Sơn (or Côn Lôn) Island is infamous for its penal facilities where Vietnamese and Cambodian nationalists were sent to serve their sentence for anti-French activities during the French colonial era. Many Vietnamese Communist leaders were “schooled” on this island as well.

Time your visit

From March to September is the best time of the year to visit Côn Đảo. From October to February, although there are often large waves, it is still worthy to visit because that is the time of the dry season with very lovely sunlight. In short, visit Côn Đảo at any time you feel like, as it always welcomes you.

Destinations

Đầm Trầu Beach
Photo: Foody

Famous as the most beautiful beach of Côn Đảo, Đầm Trầu beach is only 30 minutes drive from Côn Đảo town center. There is soft white sand, pristine forests and uniquely shaped cliffs for you to explore. At the beach, you can have fun in the water, enjoy the magnificent scenery or dive into the ocean for the coral reef.

Côn Đảo National Park
Photo: Mytour

Côn Đảo National Park is an area of nearly 6,000ha of land and 14,000ha underwater. Coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests here provide environment productive for breeding, nursing and preserving marine species. Here, you will experience many interesting activities such as fishing, diving, biking, walking and nature sightseeing.

Currently, Côn Đảo is home to the largest number of sea turtles in Vietnam. There are 17 sandbanks recorded as spawning grounds of turtles, of which up to four are recorded as having 1,000 mother turtles laying eggs each year.

Hàng Dương Cemetery
Photo: Vietnam Times

Hàng Dương Cemetery is the largest cemetery on Côn Đảo. This is where tens of thousands of revolutionary and patriotic Vietnamese soldiers have been buried for generations, from 1862 to 1975. There are more than 2,000 martyrs’ graves, including graves of famous patriots such as Võ Thị Sáu, Nguyễn An Ninh, Lê Hồng Phong, etc. A special experience you have to try here is to visit the grave at 12 o’clock. In contrary to the common thinking that at this time the grave will be very quiet and deserted, the cemetery at midnight is still crowded with tourists. The stalls at the cemetery are still lit up, providing tourists with incense and offering for the deaths.

Côn Đảo Prison
Image result for nhà tù côn đảo
Photo: baotainguyenmoitruong.vn

Côn Đảo Prison was considered “Hell on Earth” during the war against the French and the US. This prison system was built by the French to lock up dangerous prisoners to French colonialism, such as political prisoners, prisoners who were on death rows, etc. This prison was later also used by the United States to imprison prisoners during the American war.

The most famous place in the prison area is the “tiger cage“. The “tiger cage” was the harshest place of the solitary confinement. The prisoners, detained in rooms with only 5m² in size and no beds, were shackled and had to lie on damp cement floor. They were provided with poor food and sanitation while often tortured for interrogation in order to subdue the wills of the prisoners. To avoid the public opposition, the “tiger cage” was isolated and kept as a secret, and for a long time, no one outside knew about its existence.

There are many other fascinating destinations on the islands, but I will leave it to you to explore for yourself.

Activities

Snorkelling on the coral reef
Photo: Dulich.me

Côn Đảo consists of different islands such as Bảy Cạnh Island, Tài Island, Tre Island, Egg Island, Trác Island or Cau Island, which are the collection of the highest density of coral reefs in Vietnam. This is an amazing opportunity for tourists to truly explore the ocean world. At pre-dive coral reef sites, you will be guided through basic operations and experience diving with an instructor.

Fishing
Photo: Youtube

Located in the South China Sea, Côn Đảo is blessed with abundant seafood, and it promises an exciting adventure for you. Brave tourists can even challenge themselves with shark fishing. The most ideal place is Bãi Nhát, located at the top of Côn Đảo’s famous peak, Love. According to “expert” shark fishermen, the best time to go shark fishing is when the night falls, while the size of the fish more or less depends on the weather and the water.

Watch the turtles laying their eggs
Photo: Soha
You can experience a very quiet but charming night on Bảy Cạnh Island, watching the Chelonia mydas turtles (or green turtles) making their nests and laying eggs on the beach. You can contact Côn Đảo National Park for more information about the tour.

Transportation

Côn Đảo is 236km from Hồ Chí Minh City. You can get to Côn Đảo by land and waterway or by air.

Photo: otosaigon.com
Travel by boat

From Hồ Chí Minh City, you can catch a bus to Vũng Tàu City then transfer to Cát Lở port to get to the pier.

You should book boat tickets online, pay through bank transfer then call the ticket office to confirm payment. Even if you have paid, you still need to arrive at the port 5 hours before the departure time. If you arrive late, the tickets will be sold to others, even if you have paid.

Booking website: vetaukhachcondao.com.

If your schedule has specific departure and return dates, always book your return, and take them all at once at Cát Lở Pier, avoiding waiting time to buy tickets at two ports. During the booking process, when payment is finished, you should also check the boat schedule to see whether the trip is cancelled or not, or if you have to change boat. If so, you should call the ticket office and re-order the tickets, because if the weather is bad or the boat is not running, the ticket office will not notify you.

Travel by plane

You can fly directly from Hồ Chí Minh City or Cần Thơ to Côn Đảo. From Hà Nội, you will have to transit to one of the places above. From Hồ Chí Minh City, there are 4-5 flights every day and guests can bring a maximum of 20 kg of checked baggage and 7 kg of free portable luggage. The flight time is about 55 minutes.

If you have any questions regarding this article or are in need of assistance about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are definitely thrilled to help.

Ngọc Lê

Bạc Liêu – The Wealthy Wild Child of Mekong Delta

Visiting the Mekong Delta is your wise choice to discover the beautiful treasure of Vietnam. It is a prosperous region in terms of “Agri-and-Culture” aspects. There are yet many wonderful places to discover in here. Last time, we got to know Cần Thơ – the city of floating markets. This time, let’s travel further southwards to Bạc Liêu City – the hometown of many wealthy landlords of South Vietnam.

In this article, I will suggest 5 worth-seeing destinations in Bac Lieu, I have categorized them into nature and heritage. But you should check them all out. They’re fantastic! Trust me.

Nature

Bac Lieu converges with rivers and sea. For that reason, its natural sightseeings are various. There are Strict Nature Reserve for those who love expeditions, fruit farms for the ones who enjoy a picnic full of delicious food and fruits. But hold on, for anyone who wants the most unique picture to fill in their travel journals, you should not miss the visit to the salt field.

*Vuờn Chim Bạc Liêu – Bac Lieu’s Bird Sanctuary

Enjoy the unique trekking experience in the primaeval tropical forest and observe the wonderful biodiversity in Bac Lieu’s Bird Sanctuary. It is the home for reptile, amphibian, fish and approximately 46 bird species, many of which are listed on the Red Book. The best time to witness the parade of the birds is at the break of dawn. Standing on the observatories high above, you will listen to the fantastic music sung by the animal orchestra and all of a sudden there comes flocks of birds soaring and swinging in the pinkish blue sky. This spectacular scene makes you admire the beauty of nature and later will become the memory that lasts forever in mind.

Address: Cao Văn Lầu, Hiệp Thành Dist, Bạc Liêu city.

Rare birds in Bac Lieu. Photo: mytour.vn
Ancient Longan Garden

In the early 20th century, the Chinese immigrant – Mr.Trương Hưng – brought the longan crops from China and started planting them in Bac Lieu. The result was that they adapted quickly and provided tasty fruits that have become Bac Lieu’s speciality since then.

Until now, the 100-year-old longan tree still lives well and produce its fruits annually. While picnicking in the garden, you will taste not only the succulent fruits such as longans, rambutans, mangoes, etc. but also the delicious cuisine prepared by the local cooks. Furthermore, during the day, you will listen to Đờn ca tài tử – the local music performed live by the native artists with Vietnamese music instruments. And there you are, enjoying a wonderful afternoon under the light sunbeams on the trees. When your belly is filled with goodness, your eyes will start half-closing from sleepiness. Feel free to nap cause you worth it!

Address: 2,  Hiệp Thành – Vĩnh Trạch Đông, Bạc Liêu city.

photo: giongcayanqua.edu.vn
The Salt Field

Bac Lieu is not only gifted with rivers and flat lands but also coastlines. When travelling along the shore, the salt harvest scene is the splendid view that you’d better bring a camera to capture it.

In large ponds of seawater lying in lines many heaps of salt, on which hard-working farmers are marching one by one to collect bits by bits of the white gift from the sea. Looking from outside, it feels like they are playing with snow. But let’s face the reality: under the vigorous sunshine, no snow could exist. However, despite the heat, this amazing scene is too mesmerizing for you to leave. Keep taking as many pictures as you like. And at the end of the day, this is what you’ve been longing for: sunset on the beach. Oh, what a beautiful day! A trip to Bac Lieu salt fields gives you the most satisfying photos that you’ve ever wanted.

Address: Hòa Bình and Đông Hải district, Bạc Liêu province.

Salt harvest in Bac Lieu. Photo: didauchoigi.com
Architectural heritage

Bac Lieu is home to 3 major ethnics: Kinh (Vietnamese), Hoa (Teow Cheow – Chinese) and Khmer. Together, they have created such a wonderful unique blending living environment. In every corner around towns, it is interesting, yet, very bizarre to see French-inspired buildings and Khmer temples mixing up randomly. Here are some heritages that you must visit in Bac Lieu.

Xiêm Cán Pagoda

In 1887, the Khmer people built this religious architecture complex. It has several buildings, all of which serve specific religious functions. There’s an interesting fact that you must know: the architecture of the pagoda adapted the Angkor style from the Khmer, however, its name “Xiêm Cán”, meaning “near the water”, is indeed a Chinese name.

The pagoda is decorated with meticulous details in vibrant colours from the inside out. The most eye-catching decoration is the five-head-snakes carved on the edges of the roofs, on the arches, walls and stairs. People believe that the Buddha had tamed this treacherous species and made them guard the sacred place. It takes around 2 hours to explore this marvellous pagoda. Walking in a pure and serene atmosphere, you should take a moment to zen. Just simply close your eyes, control our breath, think slowly, and let your stress drift out to the breeze.

Address: Tỉnh lộ 31, Xã Vĩnh Trạch Đông, Thành phố Bạc Liêu, T. Bạc Liêu.

Interior decoration at Xiem Can Pagoda. Photo: gody.vn
Công Tử Bạc Liêu’s Villa

 For Bac Lieu, the late XIX-early XX century was its era of wealth as many prosperous landlords had settled their families there. At that time, the “ Công Tử Bạc Liêu” – ( Bạc Liêu Sons) were notorious for their lavishness. There were many anecdotes about their uncontrollable spendings, but the truths behind those stories were not yet proven. Still, there is one true and famous legacy of the “ Công Tử Bạc Liêu” remains until now: the villa of Trần Trinh Huy (1900-1974).

Trần Trinh Huy had lived the wildest dream. As a consequence, he went bankrupt and left his descendants nothing but misfortunate. Today, the villa belongs to the city and has transformed into a hotel/ tourist attraction. The villa was built French-style with all the materials imported from Paris, and it was the fanciest villa in Southern Vietnam. The place reserves the original fancy belongings of Trần Trinh Huy. There are luxurious items of furniture, cars, and rare decorations that will make you burst out: “How could he be that rich?”. Unfortunately, the legacy wasn’t passed down to his children. The Tran family has then been struggling for their lives. You can hear the true story told by Trinh Huy’s grandson, who is now a tour guide for the villa that once belonged to his family.

Address: 13 Điện Biên Phủ, Ward 3, Bạc Liêu

Fancy furniture pieces inside Cong Tu Bac Lieu’s villa. Photo: vietfuntravel.com.vn

Levi.