VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

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

For most visitors, the northeast is all about Ha long Bay. The sublime seascape at this World Heritage site is undoubtedly one of Vietnam's most enchanting experiences. But high up in the rugged mountains of the interior are some of the country's most intriguing destinies, and far fewer tourists than in the coastal clusters. Bizarre but beautiful, Ha long Bay is geology gone wild, with hundreds and thousands:-limestone pinnacles protruding from the waters. North of Ha long Bay is the less-visited Bay Ha Long Bay, where nature's spectacular show continues ail the way to the Chinese border in the south of Ha long Bay is Cat Ba Island, a 'lost world' landscape with hiking, hiking or just hanging around the order of the day. And just a hydrofoil ride away is Haiphong, the north’s major port and a step back in time with wide boulevards and elegant architecture. Looming above the coast, the brooding mountains of the northeast are another world entirely. The karts connection continues into Cao Bang province, the surreal scenery some of the most stunning in all Vietnam. It is the perfect base for meeting Montagnard Minonk’s and exploring idyllic waterfalls or Ba Be National Park Getting back to the basics, this area is a popular route for travelling overland between China and Vietnam. There are two border crossings: one on the coast at Mong Cai that is seldom used, and nether near Lang Son. With all this border traffic, it's looking good for the locals and the northeast is riding on a boom, as the gateway to Hanoi, by land and by sea.
History
Dominated by the Red River basin and the sea, the fertile northeast is the cradle of Vietnamese civilisation. Much of Vietnamese history (and not all of it happy) was made here. Vietnam has had less than cordial relations with the Chinese, who invaded in the 2nd century BC and stuck around for about 1000 years. They were finally vanquished in the 10th century; see the boxed text. Any time the Chinese wanted to interfere in Vietnam's affairs, it was through the northeast that they approached. The last time was in 1979 to punish the Vietnamese for invading Cambodia . As well as invasions, this region has also witnessed an exodus during the late 1970s and early 1980s, as thousands of ethnic-Chinese and later thousands more Vietnamese took to the mountains or the seas to search for a better life in China, Hong Kong and beyond.
National Parks
The beautiful national parks of the northeast all involve a certain amount of water-based activity, Cat Ba National Park, near Halong Bay, is straight out of Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs, a rugged island jutting out of the sea, liberally cloaked in lush jungle. Further north, Ha long Bay becomes Bai Tu Long National Park, a stunning scene of karsts that is every bit the equal of its more illustrious neighbour. Enjoy the beauty without the tourists and explore the hidden beaches,
Ba Be National Park is home to a stunning series of lakes, hemmed in by .soaring mountains and lush forest on all sides. Almost alpine, this is a great park for hiking, hiking and boat trips to caves and waterfalls. Consider a homestay in a minority village in the park.
Getting There & Away
Hanoi is the gateway to the northeast and there are excellent roads connecting the capital to Haiphong, Ha long City and Lang Son. As the terrain gets more mountainous the roads become more mischievous, but they are generally good throughout the region. Buses are fast and modern in the lowlands, but slow and creaking in the highlands. There are also rail links to Hai phong and Lang Son, but the trains move at a snail's pace.