The Cai Rong trade port of Van Don Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay

(Updated: 6/8/2016 4:20:36 PM)

Van Don is the original commerical trade port of Vietnam. Van Don is part of in Van Hai Islands, today known as Van Don District, located in the southeast of Ha Long Bay.Vestiges of Van Don commercial port have found in the areas around Cong Dong, Cong Hep, Cong Yen, Ngoc Vung, Quan Lan and Minh Chau Islands. Around ancient floors are found terracotta jars containing ancient copper coins of Chinese dynasties, from Tang to Qing, and Vietnamese coins from Ly to Nguyen dynasties. Sometimes, terracotta jars containing enameled dishes and bowls were also found. In the ancient pier, there is a well named Hieu well, also known as Nang Tien well which is full of water all around the year. Vestiges of Cai Lang

An ancient pier are further shown by traces of floors ranging along the shore. Cai Lang Village is the earliest example of an old traditional village in the islands.
 Besides traces of commercial activity in Van Don, archaeologists have found religious architectural construction works such as pagodas and towers. Cong Dong Island alone has four pagodas and one tower, including the especially large Lam pagoda area, built in the Tran dynasty. Lam pagoda was built on the western side of Cong Dong Island, opposite the eastern side of the mountain. Vestiges of the pagoda area include the temple gate, Ho pagoda, Phat pagoda, the Upper shrine, Buddha’s throne, and squirrel and dragon-carved stone balustrades, illustrating that the Lam pagoda has been an important Buddhist centre for the whole island area.


Three kilometers northeast of the Lam pagoda, on the high hill of Cong Dong island, there are ruins of a tower built with baked bricks. On the outside of the tower, the bricks are decorated with dragon figures on fig-tree leaves. Thirteen fragments of an ivory glazed porcelain vase were found in the shrine inside the tower. The vase contained bone-ash of eminent monks whose names are closely connected with the Lam pagoda’s Buddhist heritage. Based on the size of the shrine, we can imagine the large scale of the tower, at least equivalent to the Pho Minh tower built under the Tran dynasty in Nam Dinh province.

Bai Tu Long Bay
There’s way more to northeast Vietnam than Halong Bay. The sinking limestone plateau, which gave birth to the bay’s spectacular islands, continues for some 100km to the Chinese border. The area immediately northeast of Halong Bay is part of Bai Tu Long National Park. Bai Tu Long Bay is every bit as beautiful as its famous neighbour. In some ways it’s actually more stunning, since it’s only in its initial stages as a destination for travellers. Improved boat transport to the scattering of resorts here means the area is quickly growing in popularity with domestic tourists, but the bay and its islands are still unpolluted and relatively undeveloped. For Western travellers, it’s a laid-back alternative to the touristy bustle of Halong Bay.

As with Halong Bay, the best way to experience the full gamut of limestone pinnacle scattered along the seascape is by cruise. Hanoi travel agencies, including Ethnic Voyage, run boat trips into the Bai Tu Long area. Charter boats can also be arranged to Bai Tu Long Bay from Indochine Junk or Ethnic Voyage and the trip there takes about five hours or more. To experience a slice of slow island life, independent travellers can head to Quan Lan Island.

Bai Tu Long Bay is a bay in Vietnam. It encompasses Bái Tử Long National Park. Bai Tu Long Bay is northeast of Hạ Long Bay. Bai Tu Long Bay occupies three quarters of Halong Bay World Heritage site, as well as many islands in Van Don, Cam Pha District. Travelling to Bai Tu Long Bay is off the beaten track and promises to deliver many unique experiences, far from the heavily touristic sites.

In this big area, visitors can find pristine natural landscapes. Even now, Bai Tu Long remains an extensive unexplored area. In some ways it is actually more stunning than Halong Bay, since it is only in its initial stages as a destination for travelers. Bai Tu Long has many attractions to visit: Cong Do area, Vung Vieng fishing village, Da Xep Park, Cong Dam area, Thien Canh Son cave and Tra Gioi beach. There are also some populated islands; Quan Lan, Ngoc Vung, Cong Dong, and Cong Tay with many beautiful beaches. In addition, Bai Tu Long Bay National Park is rich in biological diversity, home to many different flora and fauna.

Indochine Junk is the only company in Halong Bay with extensive experience and was the first to be awarded official permission to take tourists to Bai Tu Long Bay. Indochine Junk fleet has 03 boats including 12 high standard wooden junks, with from 1 to 11 cabins and 2 luxurious ships of 24 cabins cruising to remote corners in Bai Tu Long Bay. Joining a cruise with Indochine Junk, you will experience warm service and many unique packages to choose from. Study the UNESCO protected geological formation formed long ago, and the biodiversity of the site; experience squid fishing; enter deep into the local life in floating villages, dine in a candlelit cave; feast on a BBQ lunch on the beach, or kayak close to limestone islands.

Sails of Indochina - Van Don Bay

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