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  MOUNTAIN & FOREST IN NORTH

INDOCHINA TOURS
137/4 Tran Huu Trang, Phu Nhuan District
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
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Beaches & Island   -  Grottoes  -  Rivers, Lakes & Mountain

HUONG SON AREA

The Huong Son area consists of the Perfume Pagoda and Huong Tich Grotto and is situated in the My Duc District of Ha Tay Provinces, almost 70 km northwest of Ha Noi.

 

 

DONG VAN HIGHLAND

Dong Van Highland situated 1,025 m above sea level and is inhabited by the Tay and H’Mong ethnic groups. The temperature is approximately 1oC in winter and reaches 24oC in hottest days. The plateau provides famous products such as Hau plums, peaches, and persimmons without seeds. Dong Van apples are as big as a pear.

In Dong Van, numerous valuable plants used for their medicinal value are found: ginseng, anise, and cinnamon.

Dong Van has a lot to offer: mountains, forests, hidden grottoes and caves, multicolored orchid forests, plum and peach trees, persimmon orchards, and more. Visiting Dong Van, one can see Pho Bang, also called Pho Bang Street, which was built a long time ago and features multi-story houses made of clay bricks and tile roofs.

Visiting Dong Van on Sundays, one can shop in a very original mountain market where all kinds of goods and multicolored clothes can be purchased.

 

SAPA

The best time to witness the scenic beauty of Sapa is in April and May. Prior to that, the weather might be cold and foggy. In April and May, the area is blooming with flowers and green pastures. The clouds that settle in the valley early in the morning quickly disappear into the mountaintops.

Located at 1,500 m above sea level, Sapa lies on the side of the Hoang Lien Son Mountains, 333 km northwest of Ha Noi. Sapa’s vegetation is diversified, ranging from flowers to fruits; among the most popular are apples, pears, peaches and plums.

Sapa has countless natural sites to visit such as Thac Bac, Thuy Cung Grotto, Gio Cave, Troi Gate and Truc forest. Sapa is also the starting point for many clumbers looking to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest on the Indochinese peninsula at 3,143m. the pyramid-shaped peak is covered with clouds all year round and temperatures often drop below zero at high elevations.

To reach Sapa, one can take a train to Lao Cai and from there, hop on a bus to Sapa. On Sundays, Nung, Dao, Tay, Cao lan, Paxi and Xa Phong minorities make the trip to the foot of Fansipan to take part in the Sunday market.

 

FANXIPANG MOUNTAIN

Located 7 km from Lao Cai along Hoang Lien Son Mountains, Fanxipang Mountain is southwest of Sapa. It takes six or seven days to reach the peak of Fanxipang, the highest peak of the Indochina Peninsula with 3,143 m.

The topography of Fanxipang is varied Muong Hoa valley, at the lowest altitude (950 – 1,000m), is created by a narrow strip of land at the base on the east side of the mountain.

Approximately 1,680 plant species divided into 679 families are found on the mountain.

 

XUAN SON CAVES AND XUAN SON FOREST

Northwest of Phu Tho is Xuan Son Caves in Thanh Son district. This complex of mythical caves and grottoes lies deep in the vast forest. Dozens of caves and grottoes in which hang stalactites of different shapes are spread all over the area. Xuan Son Caves are still s mysterious potential, as they have not yet been tapped. This site will however become, in the immediate future, an interesting tourist attraction, given the project receives assistance from Vietnamese and foreign investors.

 

PHADIN PASS

In the local language, Pha Din means heaven and earth and according to the locale legend, it was the frontier between Heaven and Earth.

Pha Din is located 1,000 m above sea level Climbing and descending the slopes with their many bends and deep gropes is a really interesting trip amid such a magnificent scenery.

 

TAM DAO RESORT

Tam Dao Resort, located 75 km from Ha Noi, lies between the Ban Thach, Thien Nhi and Phu Nghia mountains. The area, 1000 m above sea level, has been known since the Ly and Tran dynasties for its scenic beauty, but was not transformed into a resort until the 20th century by the French (1904 – 1906). Tam Dao is comprised of villas, hotels, restaurants, sports fields, swimming pools and dance halls.

The weather is cool all year round with and average temperature of 20 to 22oC. during the summer, tens of thousands of tourists visit Tam Dao to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

 

YEN TU MOUNTAIN

The Yen Tu Mountains are located in Quang Ninh Province, 14 km from Uong Bi in the northeast region of the country. According to Vietnamese Zen Buddhist history, the mountains are located where the three patriarchs of the Truc Lam Ch’an sect came into being.

The Truc Lam Buddhist sect’s founders included: Emperor Tran Nhan Tong (1258 – 1308), Phap Loa Ton Gia (1284 – 1330); and Ly Dao Tai (1254 – 1334), also known as Huyen Quang Ton Gia.
Yen Tu’s legacy includes pagodas, temples and towers spreading from the foot of Doc Do Hill, also named Bi Thuong, to the Dong pagoda.

The road leading to Yen Tu goes through many hills and streams, with countless places of worship to stop at. The most beautiful stop is Tich Quang, which dates back to 1727, where the remains of its founder, Tue Dang, are preserved.

Near the slopes of Day Dieu and Va Quy are eight towers, one of which dates back to 1758. The relics of the first founder of Truc Lam are also kept here. One of the tower’s platforms is in the shape of a lotus flower with 102 petals. Inside is a marble statue of the sect’s founder.

In the past, the Yen Tu Mountains were a National Buddhist Center. Nowadays, they are a valuable historical and cultural vestige of Vietnam.

 

BA VI MOUNTAINS AND SUOI HAI LAKE

The Ba Vi mountains cover an area of over 5,000 ha in Ha Tay Province, about 60 km west of Ha Noi.

According to Vietnamese legends, adeity resided in Ba Vi, which is why these mountains are considered the origin of all the country’s peaks. The highest is Ngoc Tan at 1,281 m.

There are three temples in the mountains: Thuong Temple, located at the top; Trung Temple, about half way up; and Ha Temple, at the food of the mountain.

The pure and cool air that form due to its higher elevation has made Ba Vi a famous resort ever since the French colonialism era. Over 200 villas and rest houses have been built. Ba Vi National park is also located in the mountains.

At the foot is Suoi Hai Lake. This artificial body of water was built in 1958, and protects 14 islands of varying sizes. There are many trees and fruit gardens on the islands and lakeshore.

 

CON SON AREA

The Con Son area is located in the village of Cong Hoat, between the two mountain ranges of Phuong Hoang and Ky Lan, about 70 km from Ha Noi.

It consists of mountains, a pagoda, tower, pine forest, stream and well-known vestiges relating to national history. During the Tran Dynasty, the Con Son Pagoda was one of three centres of the Buddhist Truc Lam Trinity.

At present, there are cultural remains of the Tran Dynasty and other historical periods, as follows:

Con Son Pagoda
The pagoda, also knowns as Tu Phuc or Hun, is situated at the foot of Con Son Mountain. During the Le Dynasty, the pagoda was restored and magnificently expanded.

Today, it is a small pagoda that remains hidden underneath the shafe of ancient green trees. It was built in the shape of the cong character, inclyding a hall, incense house and upper chamber. The upper chamber is a worshipping place for Buddhists, with 3m high statues from the Le Dynasty.

Behind is a worshipping house for ancestors with statues of the three Truc lam saints (Tran Nhan Tong, Phap Loa and Huyen Quang).

There is also a 600 – year – old frangipani tree and four stele houses on the pagoda’s grounds.

Gieng Ngoc (Pearl Well)
Gieng Ngoc is located on the slopes of Ky Lan Mountain. On its right, the road leads to Ban Co Tien (Fairy Chess Stone) and Dang Minh Tower.

It was said about the well that Buddhist monk Huyen Quang was warned in a dream that the divine would give him a precious source of water. The water is clear, blue and fresh annually, and drinking it will make you feel pleasant and comfortable. The well is used by the monks here for the pagoda’s ceremonial water.

Ban Co Tien (Fairy Chess Stone)
From Con Son Pagoda you can climb approximately 600 rocky steps before finally arriving at the peak of the mountain (200 m). There is a park here with the large Ban Co Tien (Fairy Chess Stone). There is also a monument in Vong Lau Dinh (watchtower) design, with two floors and eight roofs. The view from here is incredible.

Thach Ban (Flagstone)
Beside Con Son Spring, there is a flagstone called Thach Ban, where President Ho Chi Minh once rested while visiting the area. From the upper mountain you move along a stone path down to the foot of the mountain, finally arriving at the large flagstone with an even and polished surface. It is said that in the past, Nguyen Trai used it as a “carpet” to relax, admire the scenery, write poetry and think of the country’s affairs.

 

CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK

The best time for visiting Cuc Phuong National Park is during the dry season, from December to April, when the hard forest rain that accounts for 90% of the total annual rainfall is finished. Cuc Phuong is located 160 km south of Ha Noi in Ninh Binh Province; conveniently on the route to several other tourist attractions including the Bich Dong Pagoda, Hoa Lu and Sam Son Beach. It was officially opened in 1960 as the first national park in Vietnam.

It is surrounded by several limestone cliffs, the highest being May Bac, meaning “silver cloud”, at a height of 656 m. The park’s flora supports an estimated 2,000 different species and the fauna, 450 species.

Thanks to the limestone terrain, Cuc Phuong also has a multitude of caves including Trang Khuyet, Con Moong, Pho Ma and Nguoi Xua. Quen Voi, also part of the park, is where Nguyen Hue’s army was stationed before making a surprise attact on Hanoi and defeating the ruling Tay Son army in 1789.

Global environmental programs led by the UNDP, United Nations Development Program, and FFI, Flora and Fauna International, have researched the tropical forest and the influence of monsoons on South – East Asia in Cuc Phuong.

 

CHI LANG DEFILE

The Chi Lang Defile is in the Chi Lang District of Lang Son Province, 110 km from Ha Noi and 60 km from the Sino-Vietnamese border.

The border consists of a valley surrounded by high mountains with the Thuong River running through. The mountains were opened in two locations to form two gates. The northern gate was named Quy Mon Quan, meaning “monster gate”, after the Chinese invaders who entered Vietnam here. The southern gate was called Ngo The, meaning “swearing gate.” They were built by Vietnamese ancestors who swore to sacrifice their lives to protect their motherland.

In was in this area that Le Hoan King defeated the Chinese Tong troops in 981 and killed all the enemies. In 1076, Prince Consort Than Canh Phuc set a front line against 300,000 Tong enemies.

Led by Quach Quy in 1285, Nguyen Dia Lo killed traitor Tran Kien in the 2nd National Resistance against Nguyen Mong invaders. In 1427, Lam Son righteous army killed rebel leader Lieu Thang, caught Hoang Phuc, killed 10,000 Minh enemies, and overthrew all their maneuvers. Now, Chi Lang Border is considered an historical vestige with imposing landscape where visitors stop to enjoy the natural scenery.

 

MAI CHAU VALLEY

Mai Chau is located in Hoa Binh Province, approximately 135 km from Hanoi and 60 km from Hoa Binh. From the top of Cun Mountain, one can admire a superb panorama of the green valley of stilt-houses. Many minorities, including the Thai ethnic group, call Mai Chau home.

Stilt-houses border the area’s roads. The houses are quite large with palm leaf roofs and polished woven bamboo floors. The kitchen is located in the centre of the house, and is also the centre for many household activities. The windows are large and decorated with patterns. Most houses also have fish-breeding ponds.

The Sunday market brings a lot of people in town. People from different minorities living in the mountains come to Mai Chau market to sell their specific produces: honey, bananas, corn, and tho cam made by skilled Thai women. Sunday market is also the occasion to enjoy traditional Thai dishes and to participate in traditional dances.

 

 

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