Since along time, Thang Long – Hanoi has been the symbol of the Vietnam. Each of the Vietnamese has his or her soul attached to the fatherland that bears so many imprints of the growing process of the nation. Get your best Vietnam Travel Deals from Viet Vision Travel.

Twenty three centuries ago, Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi was the capital of Au Lac, the Kingdom of Thuc Phan. More than 1000 years later, after many times our people fought against the ruling feudalists, the path of land corresponding with the present territory of Hanoi hasbecome the capital of our whole country. In the VI century, the Capital of Van Xuan Kingdom of Ly Bi was in Long Bien, the present location of which is still unknown. But in Thanh Tri there is a lake named Van Xuan,which is said to be trace of the Van Xuan Citadel belonging to the Early Ly Dynasty. In the eight century, King Phung Hung regained the country installed the capital in Dai La, that was the name of Hanoi at that time. In the tenth century, the father, son and nephew of the Khuc family and Duong Dinh Nghe who established a sovereign government also installed in Dai La.

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The answer is the popular one-day boat tours to enjoy the beautiful islets. There is a four-hour trip to Thien Cung Grotto, Dau Go Cave, Dinh Huong Islet and Ga Choi Islet and an eight-hour trip to Thien Cung Grotto, Dau Go Cave, Dinh Huong Islet, Ga Choi Islet, Sung Sot Grotto and Titov Beach. There is also a two-day and one-night tour which allows for time to go kayaking and cuttle fishing in the bay at night.

On these routes tourists can contemplate the beauty of many of the areas that have contributed to the recognition of Halong Bay, including two of the largest and most beautiful grottos in the bay: Thien Cung (Celestial Palace) grotto (covering 3,000 square meters) and Sung Sot (Surprise) grotto (covering 10,000 square meters).

Both grottos are divided into three chambers containing ornamental stalactites and stalagmites formed millions of years ago. The Sung Sot grotto is also known as “surprise” grotto because its third chamber suddenly opens to a large, monumental palace with natural works of rocks and stalactites.

Dinh Huong Islet, the icon of the bay that resembles an incense burner made of stone, and the Ga Choi Islet, an islet that looks like two fighting cock facing each other are also part of the tour.

After touring these beautiful spots there is time to relax at the beach of Titov Island, about 13 kilometers from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf.

The island was originally named Cat Nang. However, in 1962 President Ho Chi Minh and Russian astronaut Giecman Titov visited the island and Uncle Ho renamed it after the astronaut to mark the visit and the Vietnamese – Russian friendship.

The island offers sun-bathing on a sandy white beach on one side and a climb up to a watch-tower gazebo at about 100 meters above the sea level for a panoramic view of Halong Bay on the other side.


Rather than take a regular tour along Hue’s Perfume River with travel agents, I decide to do as the locals would do and go by sampan! I arrive at the riverbank before dawn and negotiate a small fee with one of the boat people. As we set off the river is covered with a layer of cold mist.

The boat owners are heading off to work as we float away from the “sampan village”. We pass Hen islet in the general direction of Da Vien islet. According to the principles of feng shui, Hen symbolises an Azure Dragon (East) – a fairytale creature – while Da Vien represents a White Tiger (West). These two powerful creatures were believed to guard the emperors’ throne in the Imperial City of Hue.

The word ‘hen’ means ‘clam’ in Vietnamese and the tiny shellfish is found everywhere in these waters. That’s why one of the local delicacies is com hen, a dish with rice, clam and vegetables. We arrive at Dong Ba market further along the river. The market is the largest commercial centre in Hue. Traders from smaller markets come here to buy goods at wholesale prices.

Piles of fresh fruit and vegetables are everywhere. Rather than get caught up in the vibrant atmosphere we row on. We watch motorcycles with carts of vegetables and fruit shoot over the elegantly designed Truong Tien bridge, which was constructed by the renowned Eiffel Construction Company from France. Our fragile boat glides under. In riverside parks joggers trot past.

Fishermen squat at the ends of their boat looking for the catch-of-the-day. After we pass the pavilion of Thuong Bac – a reception centre for foreign guests during the Nguyen dynasty (1802- 1945) – we reach Phu Xuan bridge. The sun is now rising into the sky and the long white bridge looks immaculate above the deep blue river, which is flanked by grassy riverbanks. Locals walk over this bridge to greet the dawn in the morning or to admire the twilight dimming behind the mountains upstream come evening time.

We moor our boat at the wharf by Nghinh Luong pavilion, where emperors once disembarked. A huge boat built in the imperial style is anchored a few metres from the wharf, evoking a bygone era of Vietnam’s former capital. On the shady Le Duan by Van Lau pavilion, I find a covered stone stele with a poem carved by Emperor Thieu Tri. The descriptive verse sketches a vivid and serene scene in Hue before daybreak.

Just a minute’s walk away, Long Thuyen temple hides under a dense canopy of trees. Inside the crumbling temple, you can find fading parallel sentences that depict the wonder of a moonlit night on Huong river. After I return to the wharf, we finally arrive at Da Vien islet, where visitors can find a unique royal garden which was established during the reign of Tu Duc (1829-1883), the fourth ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Unfortunately, few relics remain in the garden, but the fertile islet is still home to lush green vegetable patches cultivated by local farmers. In the distance the two bridges of Bach Ho and Da Vien are shaped like a pair of iron arms connecting the islet with the two villages on either side of the river. In the distance white clouds sit around the peaks of green mountains like a long soft, comforting scarf.

We rest at a temple nestled amongst the bamboo trees and admire its reflection on the crystal clear water. The Perfume River is like a magic mirror in which every reflection seems purer, more beautiful. On the way back, we row past Quoc Hoc and Hai Ba Trung high schools, the Provincial People’s Committee building and grand French colonial structures before reaching my friends’ modest “floating house” in the sampan village.

As I daydream of a large, late breakfast the scent of grilled meat suddenly greets my empty stomach. A middle-aged woman serving up bun thit nuong (grilled pork and noodles), a local delicacy, appears like a vision. She paddles towards us with an inviting smile. How can I possibly refuse? Floating on the river while eating breakfast… everything on the Perfume River seems like a dream.