Isolated from the mainland, the Côn Đảo islands are one of the best places to visit in Việt Nam. Long used as a prison mainly for political prisoners and resistance fighters before 1975, this place is now recognised for its unspoiled natural beauty.
Located off the southern province of Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu coast, and 230 kilometres from HCM City, Côn Đảo consists of 16 islands and islets.
In addition to hiking, diving and watching wildlife, tourists can explore coral reefs, or pay a visit to former Côn Đảo prison where French colonists and later the Sài Gòn regime jailed Vietnamese revolutionaries and opposition forces.
Côn Đảo’s rainy season lasts from May to October, and the dry season runs from November to April the next year. Visitors can hike in the dry season, when the weather is mild and warm.
The weather in the rainy season is somewhat cooler with frequent showers. This is the perfect time for visitors to enjoy the blue sea, and watch the turtles come ashore to lay eggs.
Đầm Trầu Beach is a must-see attraction for anybody visiting Côn Đảo. This place was voted as one of the 25 most beautiful beaches in the world with crystal clear water and colourful coral reefs.
Meanwhile, Nhát Beach, Bảy Cạnh Island, Cape Cá Mập (Shark), and Côn Đảo national park allow you to mingle with nature, observe rare animals, and witness the wonderful sunset.
If you want to see the sunrise over the sea, Cape Chim Chim and Pier 914 in the centre of town are perfect date sites.
Although it seems to be heaven on earth, Côn Sơn, the largest island of the archipelago, was once living hell for ten of thousands of prisoners under the French colonial rule and the US-backed Sài Gòn regime.
The prison system in Côn Sơn has existed for 113 years up to the total liberation of South Việt Nam on April 30, 1975.
During the French rule it mainly detained revolutionaries and other patriotic forces who fought against colonialism, and was later used by the Sài Gòn administration.
Over 20,000 people died on this island during the hundred-year existence of the prison.
Nowadays, Côn Đảo prison and museum are restored as a place to keep alive the memories of the Vietnamese who fought for national freedom and independence.
Hàng Dương cemetery, home to the graves of heroine Võ Thị Sáu and many unknown soldiers, is of ten visited by many tourists.
In addition to the breathtaking scenery, Côn Đảo cuisine also impresses tourists at home and abroad.
Seafood is caught directly from the sea, so it always retains its freshness and rich flavour. Famous specialities in Côn Đảo include mackerel, oyster porridge, moon crab, snails, and scallops.
- From April 14, all passengers arriving at Côn Đảo are no longer required to present a valid test certificate or take a COVID-19 test.
- T-shirts, shorts and sneakers are the right choice if you want to explore the island’s tropical forests. However, when going to historical sites, you should dress properly.
- You should bring along cash as most local shops and restaurants only accept cash payments and there are a few ATMs on the island.
- You can rent a motorbike to travel on the island. However, it is necessary to check the amount of gasoline and fill it up before travelling because there are only two gas stations on the island.
Domestic destinations remain popular following peak summer season in Vietnam
The domestic tourism market in Vietnam remains bustling following the peak summer season with autumn-winter tours to popular mountainous destinations in the northwest and northeast regions.
As many autumn-winter tours to foreign countries are not yet favorable following the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers in Vietnam have decided to visit the country’s northwest and northeast provinces to admire the beauty of nature.
Some of the popular choices include Mu Cang Chai District in Yen Bai Province, home to magnificent terraced rice fields, and Moc Chau District in Son La Province, famous for the beautiful buckwheat blossom.
The number of bookings for tours to mountainous localities in northern Vietnam has been increasing, according to local travel agents.
A representative of Vietravel said that more than 6,500 visitors have booked the company’s tours to such destinations.
At Saigontourist has also sold their tours to about 6,000 customers, meeting 60 percent of its target for this travel season.
To meet this demand, travel companies have focused on tailoring new products for the autumn-winter season, which include high-quality services and new experiences for visitors.
According to a representative of TST tourist, the firm’s clients often seek tours to South Korea, Japan, or the United States during this time of the year.
As overseas travel is not yet convenient in the current context, domestic tourism continues to be the choice of local travelers.
To seize this opportunity, travel agencies across the country should form close cooperation to introduce their services to a wider range of tourists, said Lai Minh Duy, general director of TST tourist.
Pham Ngoc Thuy, director of the Department of Tourism in northern Quang Ninh Province, stated that the province is focusing on preparing for the autumn-winter tourism after the peak summer season.
In addition to popular destinations such as Yen Tu and Ha Long Bay, the locality is promoting new places like Dong Trieu, known as the original homeland of the Tran Dynasty, Binh Lieu, Mong Cai, and Uong Bi, Thuy elaborated.
The autumn-winter travel season often runs from September to October.
150-year-old French consulate edifice in Ho Chi Minh City opens to public on European Heritage Days
The Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday again opened its door to visitors for one day as part of the European Heritage Days.
The 150-year-old building welcomed visitors who were required to register in advance and divided into small groups for 30-minute tours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm within the day.
The tours took visitors to the special architectural spaces inside the Consulate General, the artworks and furniture of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945) displayed at the venue, and a 1.5-hectare park home to ages-old trees.
The visitors also had the chance to try specialties from France.
|A visitor takes a picture of an eight-piece folding screen displayed on the wall of the large living room at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
According to French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser, the European Heritage Days was initiated by the French Ministry of Culture in 1984 and has been celebrated around the world thanks to its success.
The annual event offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments, and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public.
|French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser (L, 2nd) introduces the statue of Marianne, the symbol of France, displayed at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
|French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser sits at the French-style banquet table in the large dining room at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
Visiting the French consulate for the first time on Saturday, art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi said having the building open to visitors is a good way to educate about heritage and culture, as it is not easy for the public to have the opportunity to set foot in the 150-year-old edifice.
|Art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi admires an artwork by renowned Vietnamese artist Nguyen Gia Tri during his visit to the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
In 2008, the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City welcomed more than 1,300 visitors on the occasion and a bigger number the next year.
|Visitors take pictures at the corridor while visiting the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
|The small living room with original cement floor tiles from 1872 at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
|A green space inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre|
1,000-metric-ton main hall of pagoda in central Vietnam relocated
Relocation guru Nguyen Van Cu, dubbed ‘a lamp genie’, and his 12-member team are relocating the main hall of Dieu De Pagoda in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue 18 meters backwards.
The job is aimed at preserving the ‘Long van khe hoi’, also known as ‘Cuu long an van’ (Nine dragons hidden in clouds) picture.
In the picture, five dragons hidden in clouds were painted on the ceiling of the main hall and four others on four pillars reaching up to the ceiling.
The relocation process includes many stages. Firstly, workers dug deeply into the foundation of the Dai Hung hall and constructed a plinth beam.
They later used a hydraulic cylinder system to lift the entire structure of the main hall by some 20 centimeters.
|A hydraulic winch which is used to pull the main hall. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre|
The hall was put on wooden bars, which are placed on rollers.
Some other wooden bars are kept fixed on the ground by nails.
In addition, two large pulling machines and four hydraulic winches are connected to the main hall by large cables.
The system helps pull the main hall backwards.
According to Cu, director of Nguyen Van Cu subsidence and leaning handling company in Ho Chi Minh City, the main hall, weighing some 1,000 metric tons, is pulled by some four meters per day.
“The most difficult job is to preserve the ‘Long van khe hoi’ picture, also the ceiling of the main hall, and three Buddha altars during the relocation.
“We have weighed carefully and arrived at the safest relocation solution,” Cu noted.
|Wooden bars are put under the main hall. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre|
Venerable Thich Hai Duc from Dieu De Pagoda said the pagoda invited Nguyen Van Cu to relocate the main hall of the pagoda after the authorities of Thua Thien-Hue Province asked Cu to survey and come up with a plan to relocate a French-style mansion at 26 Le Loi Street in Hue City.
In 2018, due to the serious deterioration of the Dai Hung main hall of Dieu De Pagoda, many agencies considered lowering the ceiling of the hall and sending it to the pagoda’s museum for preservation.
However, after fielding opinions, the pagoda decided to abandon this plan.
The ‘Long van khe hoi’ picture is more than 10 meters long and nearly 11 meters wide.
|A hydraulic cylinder system is used to elevate the hall. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre|
The Vietnam Guinness Book of Records in March 2008 recognized the picture as the most ancient and biggest ceiling mural in Vietnam.
The picture is believed to be drawn by artist Phan Van Tanh in 1953.
However, no document proves the information, according to experts.
Tanh is also the painter of the ‘Long van khe hoi’ picture on the ceiling of the Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh in Thua Thien-Hue Province.
|Relocation guru Nguyen Van Cu directs the relocation. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre|
|Workers put rollers between every two wooden bars to relocate the main hall. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre|
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