09:10 | 25/12/2019 Society
For Van Don Islands, an up and coming tourist destination at Vietnam’s northeastern tip, 2019 was a watershed year with the inauguration of the Ha Long-Van Don expressway and Van Don International Airport. The “journey leading to one thousand destinations”, as a visit to the spectacular China-border isles is fondly dubbed, will now be far shorter – only 2.5 hours from Hanoi by road instead of four, and less than an hour by air.
Quan Lan, an attractive destination of Van Don tourism
Discovering pristine beauty
Van Don Island District is situated in Quang Ninh Province, about 50 kilometers away from Ha Long city. Traditionally, agriculture, forestry and fisheries were its three economic mainstays, but the potential of its magnificent beaches and unspoiled natural beauty is making tourism a strong contender as the fourth pillar of local socioeconomic development. On May 31, 2018, the Executive Board of Van Don District’s Party Committee implemented Resolution 08-NQ/HU on developing Van Don tourism with a vision to 2030.
Cai Rong Town located on Van Don Island was one of the first prosperous trading ports of Vietnam under the Ly and Tran dynasties, and the Vietnamese army under General Tran Khanh Du vanquished foreign foes on Van Don’s beaches some 700 years ago. These now peaceful beaches, combined with Bai Tu Long Park and Cai Rong town, are being developed as a maritime tourism complex for trekking, relaxation and cave exploration.
The district’s main island, Cai Bau, is linked with the mainland by a series of bridges from Cua Ong town. A high-speed hydrofoil from Ha Long brings visitors there within an hour, and from there boats ferry them to some of the other 600 islands in the archipelago.
Near the Bai Dai tourism area, tourists can visit Cai Bau Pagoda on the mountains overlooking Bai Tu Long Bay. With its traditional architecture of curved roofs, whispering winds and musical chimes, the pagoda is an oasis of calm. Other old pagodas, as well as communal houses, temples and festivals can be found on Quan Lan Island served by speedboats from Hon Gai or Cai Rong ports on the mainland.
After working up an appetite swimming in the fresh cool sea water, tourists can sample fresh seafood, especially Sa Sung, also known as sandworm. They can also join fishermen in catching Sa Sung, clam raking and net fishing to make their experience more memorable.
Bai Tu Long National Park, a biosphere reserve with over 50 species of fauna and 100 high-value fish species is another promising tourism venue.
Van Don International Airport opens the door for Van Don and Quang Ninh tourism
Targeting high quality island tourism
To implement the tourism development plans, local authorities have strengthened state management and monitoring of tourism business activities, beaches, accommodations, and the promotion of tourism products. The local authority has also committed to create favorable conditions for investors in Van Don, especially in the tourism sector.
The efforts have yielded significant progress. The service system has been improved and now offers 168 accommodation facilities with 1,946 rooms, and 77 different types of boats/ships. In the first nine months of 2019, the number of tourists to Van Don District reached 1,189,000, almost equal to the year’s plan (99 percent), of which about 28,850 were foreigners.
Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh Province was named Asia's Leading New Airport 2019 at the World
Travel Awards (WTA) Asia & Oceania. Capable of accommodating aircraft up to the size of the Boeing 787, the airport
has the capacity to handle 2.5 million passengers a year. The gateway has welcomed more than 150,000 passengers
and 1,300 flights in its first eight months of operation.