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Discovering the beauty of Tiên Cave in Tuyên Quang



Tiên Cave, a complex of caves with pristine stalactites, is a not-to-be-missed destination in Tuyên Quang.  — Photo

Lâm Giang

HÀ NỘI — The Tiên Cave Complex, a popular tourist destination in Tuyên Quang Province has been referred to as the ‘Phong Nha Kẻ Bàng’ of the northwestern mountainous region. 

Just over 55km from Tuyên Quang City along National Highway 2, the Tiên Cave complex is located in Thống Nhất Village, Yên Phú Commune, Hàm Yên District.

It consists of seven caves; Tiên Cave, Thiên Đình Cave, Đàn Đá Cave, Thiên Cung Cave, Tam Cung Cave, Thạch Sanh Cave and Âm Phủ Cave. These caves are arranged in an arc.

We were surprised by the beauty of this cave, adorned by the wilderness and greatness that nature has bestowed on this land.

Unlike other caves, Tiên Cave is located near the top of the mountain. After climbing over a hundred stone steps dyed with green moss, we found a large stone gate. Here, we admired the beauty of a large mountainous area and enjoyed heaven and earth’s fresh, cool breeze.

Following the stone steps into the cave, we see gaps that look like windows. On a sunny day, the light from the cave’s entrance looks like huge floodlights shining into the heart of the cave, creating a fanciful and fancy look.

Tiên Cave is the “Phong Nha Kẻ Bàng” in the northwestern mountainous region.  — Photo

Over time, with the erosion of water and wind, stalactites crystallised to create interesting shapes. On the high and wide stone arch is a picture of a bird spreading its wide wings to bring a young girl into the cave entrance, reminding visitors of the Thạch Sanh fairy tale. Underneath is a stone block like the images of Arhats alongside the images of elephants, tigers and many other animal shapes.

Entering the cave, we meet a tall stone pillar with shimmering colours. Behind the pillar was a picture of a pregnant woman.

In Thiên Đình Cave, we admired the sparkling granite columns like an ancient palace and the echoing, melodious sound when the wind blows on the cliffs like an invitation to travellers.

We continued exploring the mysteries of Đàn Đá, Thiên Cung, Thạch Sanh and Âm Phủ Caves with countless layers of high and low stalactites. Stalactites in the caves can change colour according to sunlight; pink in the morning, sparkling like crystal at noon, and crimson at sunset. There are stones lined up like a rock musical instrument, and when lightly tapped, they make strange sounds.

At the end of the journey, we stop at the Tôm Cave, where legend has it that a fairy stopped to bathe before returning to the fairy world.

We can enjoy the cool, clear water flowing from the mountain, the fresh and cool air, dispelling the fatigue.

Perhaps the Tiên Cave has so many legends because of such fanciful beauty.

An old story recounts that the moon is very close to the earth, and the full moon shines brightly everywhere. Suddenly one day, fragments of the moon broke off and fell into the sky. At that time, a handsome young man with extraordinary strength was carrying stones to mend the moon. When carrying a stone, the young man left a Ly mountain rock. The next time he carried the rock, he was broken because the beam was broken, so he threw another stone out and formed Chân Quỳ mountain. 

While carrying the rock, he saw a fairy running by a horse, so he asked to help patch the moon. Both tried together, but the horse sank into the stream because the work was too much. Both the man and the horse turned to stone shortly thereafter. Since then, Bạch Mã island has appeared. It is this thrilling story that makes the caves of the Tiên cave complex even more mysterious and attractive to visitors.

Brocade products of the Dao people sold at the Tiên Cave Festival – Countryside Market.  — Photo

Not only has the unique landscape, every year on the 8th and 9th of the first lunar month, a big festival – countryside market is held at the Tiên Cave to promote the image of people, the land and the traditional cultural identity of the people here.  This is considered the biggest festival of Tuyên Quang every year.

At the festival, visitors can enjoy the unique cultural features of the ethnic groups here through traditional rituals, folk songs, cultural and sports activities such as playing human chess, blindfolding, volleyball competition, goat fighting, strong buffalo contest, mountain climbing contest, tug of war and painting contest about Tiên Cave.

In addition, visitors can also enjoy the specialities brought by the local people, such as Cham Chu Ba wine, dried buffalo meat and field carp.

Visitors can also buy precious medicinal herbs and forest honey as gifts. VNS



Vietnam expects to enter top 30 countries in terms of tourism competitiveness: PM



Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh expressed his belief that Vietnam will become one of the top 30 countries worldwide in terms of tourism competitiveness, while chairing an national teleconference on tourism on March 15.

Vietnam expects to enter top 30 countries in terms of tourism competitiveness: PM hinh anh 1Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh speaks at the meeting. (Photo: VNA)

– Prime Minister Pham Minh
Chinh expressed his belief that Vietnam will become one of the top 30 countries worldwide
in terms of tourism competitiveness, while chairing an national teleconference on tourism on March 15.

The country’s tourism sector should develop strongly
with “special products, professional services and clean environment” to make
Vietnam a safe, friendly destination, he said.

The leader reiterated the target of welcoming from
47-50 million international visitors and raising the sector’s GDP contributions
to about 14-15%, as set at the 13th National Party Congress.

He emphasised favourable conditions for the sector
to growth further, including one world wonder, 18 world heritages and more than
41,000 tourist sites, among others, saying tourism development is the responsibility
of the entire political system, all agencies and the whole society.

Domestic tourism should be placed in the country’s general socio-economic
development as a spearhead economic sector and should be linked with regional and
world tourism, with international standards, he noted.

Regarding key tasks in the time ahead, PM Chinh asked
ministries, agencies and localities to seriously implement viewpoints and
guidelines of the Party, laws and policies of the State on tourism, while stepping
up tourism restructuring.

He urged reviewing, amending and supplementing
relevant mechanisms, policies and regulations, increasing investment and
mobilising more resources for the sector, including those from the private sector,
helping travel firms and households access loans, enhancing digital
transformation, and building and developing a smart tourism ecosystem in

The PM stressed the need to facilitate the
opening of air routes and strengthen international cooperation, especially with
big, multi-national groups and corporations, in this field.

He assigned the Ministry of Culture, Sports and
Tourism to continue implementing the project on tourism restructuring towards
the status of a spearhead economic sector, effectively utilise big sources of
holidaymakers and promote products in which Vietnam has strengths like cultural
tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism,
medical tourism and agriculture-based tourism, among others.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representative
diplomatic offices abroad were asked to coordinate with other ministries and
agencies in the communication work, and in implementing visa and immigration policies
for international visitors.

PM Chinh suggested the Ministry of Industry and Trade
integrate tourism into trade promotion programmes both at home and abroad, and
the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development promote tourism based on
agriculture, rural areas and farmers.

The government leader also gave tasks to People’s Committees
of cities and provinces, and  travel associations
and firms.

Participants at the conference looked into opportunities and challenges
to the tourism industry, and sought solutions to them, proposing that
international travel companies should be encouraged to invest and operate in

Statistics by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and
Tourism showed that the number of international visitors to Vietnam jumped to
18 million in 2019 from only 7.9 million in 2015.

Vietnam’s average annual tourism growth of 22.7% is among
the highest in the world, according to the World Travel Organisation.

The country’s tourism has moved up eight places on
the 2021 Tourism and Travel Development Index (TTDI) to the 52nd position as compared
with that in 2019, said the World Economic Forum (WEF) Report.

With six out of the 17 pillar indexes ranked among
the top in the world, Vietnam’s tourism ranks among the top three fastest
growing countries.

Since the border reopening on March 15, 2022, the
sector has been recovering, especially domestic tourism.

Last year, the country served 101.3 million domestic
visitors and 3.5 million foreign tourists, and raked in 495 trillion VND from
the industry, up more than 23% from the set target, and equivalent to 66% of
the 2019 figure./.


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Mong Cai int’l border gate welcomes first foreign tourist group post COVID-19



The pair of Mong Cai (Vietnam) – Dongxing (China) International Border Gates officially resumed customs clearance procedures for international tourist on March 15.

Mong Cai int’l border gate welcomes first foreign tourist group post COVID-19 hinh anh 1Mong Cai International Border Gate welcomes the first foreign tourist group post COVID-19 on March 15. (Photo: VNA)

Quang Ninh – The pair of Mong Cai (Vietnam) – Dongxing (China) International Border Gates officially resumed customs clearance procedures for international tourist on March 15.

The first foreign tourists entering Vietnam through the border gate in the northern province of Quang Ninh on the day were a group of 38 Chinese tourists. They are scheduled to visit several places in Vietnam during their four-day tour such as Ha Long Bay (Quang Ninh) and the capital city of Hanoi.

The Mong Cai – Dongxing International Border Gates were officially re-opened on January 8 but only Vietnamese and Chinese citizens were allowed to go through to return home after a period of being stuck due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On February 21, import-export activities were fully resumed, and individual travellers were allowed to go through the border gates.  

It is expected that about 3,000 people will go through the border gate on March 15, the day China re-opened group tours to Vietnam.

Both the authorities and tourism agencies in Quang Ninh have got infrastructure and staff readied to receive foreign tourists. 

Vietnam is on the list of countries to which Chinese group tours can be conducted starting from March 15 in the second phase of China’s pilot programme on resuming outbound group tours./.


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Vagabond a perfect spot for café hopping



by Gia Linh 

The rising trend of ‘café hopping’, visiting more than one café during a single outing, has resulted in the omnipresence of many ‘instagrammable’ cafés.  The Vagabond Patisserie & Cafe in HCM City’s District 1’s Trần Cao Vân Street is one such venue, well-known among cafe-goers and sweets-lovers for their meticulously made seasonal cakes and drinks.

The word ‘vagabond’ is a nod to the owners’ philosophy of running their business outside traditional frameworks.

QUAINT: The Vagabond in 9 Trần Cao Vân Street in HCM City’s District 1 is famous for its beautiful decor and tasty cakes. – VNS Photo Gia Linh

I got to know The Vagabond through their advertisement on Instagram, and was completely taken by how pretty their cakes are. Seeing the pictures, reading the captions, and knowing that they made their pâtisserie from scratch stirred my curiosity. 

I could not wait to see this café, especially as I love baking. With two of my like-minded besties, we planned a date immediately.

Upon arrival, we were immediately awed by how it looked on the outside, an old world European concept with black-and-white exterior designs, an entrance filled with various plants, and decorations creating a mysterious, cozy atmosphere.

It was lively inside, but not too busy; jazzy 90s’ music was playing in the background. The staff were attentive, quickly setting up a table for us.

The interior had an antique, vintage theme: yellow lights, wooden tables and chairs, a floor-to-ceiling old bookshelf; it felt like a European café in the 80s.

Once we scanned through the menu, we were completely invested in the place. There are dozens of options, from desserts to coffee, tea, and even homemade ice-cream. We took a long time choosing, and ended up with three ‘no-baked’ cakes and two icy drinks.

The order came in no time, and the plating was perfect. We took tons of pictures, amazed by how beautiful the dishes looked, not wanting to ruin them. 

After planning what order we should try the cakes (from the mildest to strongest), we tried the mango and Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) mille crêpe first. The aroma from the Yuzu hit us on the tip of our tongues, fresh and citrusy. The combination between the rich cream, tangy hint of Yuzu and mango, and soft, light crêpe layers was so refreshing.

Since it was cherry season, we could not skip the Souvie on the menu, a ‘cherry-bomb’ full of complex components, textures and flavours.

It was covered in a paper-thin layer of berry-flavoured chocolate, and on top was glossy marmalade made of cherry chunks. The inside was a work of art, with cocoa sponge-cake at the bottom, then a layer of chocolate mousse, cherry compote, and a third layer of cherry-infused cream cheese on top. The components worked together amazingly. The hint of chocolate recognizably enhanced the natural, sweet cherry flavour. 

CAKE OFF: The Vagabond seasonal cakes are visually satisfying and taste amazing. – VNS Photo Gia Linh

Setting the cakes aside, we headed for our drinks, starting off with the cherry berry kumquat tea. While we did find the tea refreshing with the taste of cherries and kumquat, and it would pair decently with creamy, heavy cakes, it was just a bit on the bland side. 

Contrary to the tea, we could not stop drinking the oat milk with brown sugar toddy palm, which more than lived up to our expectations. The milk was creamy, nutty, the sugar syrup added a hint of sweet, caramelising taste, and the brown-sugar coated toddy palms were chewy. We think we even prefer this one over traditional milk tea!

DELIGHTFUL DRINK: The nutty oat milk with caramelised brown sugar
toddy palms was an addicting drink. – VNS Photo Gia Linh

We finished off with a Greenerie, our last cake. According to the menu, this one contained a trio of pistachio, cherry, and matcha (a rather peculiar combination). At the bottom was a thin layer of Kyoto matcha sponge cake, on top was again the cherry compote, and finally, there was the pistachio cream. The matcha taste did not overpower the other flavours, and I especially loved the sheer nuttiness of the pistachio cream. It was my favourite cake of the three.

We sat and talked for hours, enjoying the last bit of everything. Nothing was overly sweet, and portion sizes were just enough. 

Items on the menu range from VNĐ80,000 to 180,000, and our bill came to around VNĐ660,000 (US$28), a great deal for the superb cakes and drinks.

The Vagabond also has another branch at 118 Hà Huy Tập Street, District 7.

With great service, beautiful decorations, and top-tier cakes and drinks, I highly recommend The Vagabond to those who want to have a unique café outing. VNS

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