Northeast Vietnam

Con Son Den Kiep Bac - Hai Phong - Around Hai Phong - Ha Long Bay - Ha Long City - Cat Ba Island - Bai Tu Long Bay - Mong Cai Chinese Border - Around Mong Cai - Lang Son - Cao Bang - Aroud Cao Bang - Ba Be National Park - Thai Nguyen - Around Thai Nguyen


More appealing to domestic travellers than foreigners. Con Son and Den Kiep Bac are nonetheless potential diversions en route to Haiphong or Halong City. Con Son was home to Nguyen Trai (1380 -1442), the famed Vietnamese poet, writer and general. Nguyen Trai assisted Emperor Le Loi in his successful battle against the Chinese Ming dynasty in the 15th century. Con Son pagoda complex (admission per person/vehide 3000/5OOOd) has a temple honouring Nguyen Trai atop a nearby mountain. It's a 600-step climb to reach it -a serious workout. Alternatively, take the loop walk past a spring, heading up through pine forests, and return down the steps. Several kilometres away. Den Kiep Bac (Kiep Bac Temple; admission per person/vehicle 2000/5OOOd) is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao (1228-1300). An outstanding general of renowned bravery, his armies defeated 500,000 Mongol invaders in the mid- 1280s. Perhaps second only to Ho Chi Minh in the historic hall of fame, he is a revered Vietnamese folk hero. This beautiful temple was founded in 1300 and built on the site where Tran Hung Dao is said to have died. The temple was built not only for the general, but also to honour other notable members of his family. One was the general's daughter, Quyen Thanh, who mar ried Tran Nhat Ton, who was credited with founding the True Lam sect of Vietnamese Buddhism. Within the temple complex there's a small exhibition on Tran Hung Dao's exploits, but you'll need a Vietnamese speaker to translate the details. The Tran Hung Dao Festival is held at Den Kiep Bac every year from the 18th to the 20th day of the eighth lunar month, usually in October. Den Kiep Bac and Con Son are in Hai Duong province, about 80km from Hanoi. With wheels, it is easy to visit on the way to Haiphong or Halong Bay. There arc several hotels and guesthouses in the immediate area.