Ha Long Bay is located in the northeastern part of Vietnam and constitutes part of the western bank of Bac Bo Gulf, including the sea area of Ha Long City and Cam Pha Town and part of Vân Don island district. It abuts Cat Ba Island in the southwest. Toward the west is the shore with a 120 km-long coastline. It is located within 106o58’-107o22’ east longitude and within 20o45’- 20o50’ north latitude. The site is 1553 sq. km with 1969 islands of various sizes, of which 989 have been named.
The islands in Ha Long Bay are mainly limestone and schist islands most lying in the two main areas: the southeastern part of Bái Tử Long Bay and southwestern part of Hạ Long Bay. These islands represent the most ancient images of a geographical site having a tectonic age of from 250 million to 280 million years. They are the result of many times of rising and lowering processes of the continent to form a karst. The process of nearly full erosion and weathering of the karst created the unique Hạ Long Bay in the world. In a not very large area, thousands of islands with different forms look like glittering emeralds attached to the blue scarf of a virgin. The area where many stone islands concentrate has spectacular scenes and world-famous caves and is the center of Ha Long Bay Natural Heritage, including HaLong Bay and a part of Bái Tu Long Bay.
The area is recognized as the World Natural Heritage that is the area of 434 sq. km with 775 islands. It looks like a giant triangle with Ðầu Gỗ Island (in the west), Ba Hầm Lake (in the south) and Cống Tây Island (in the east) as its three angle points. The nearby area is the buffer area and areas classified as national beauty spots in 1962 by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Viewed from above, Hạ Long Bay looks like an extremely vivid huge drawing. This is a wonderful and skilful masterpiece of the Creation and of nature that turns thousands of dumb soulless stone islands into fantastic sculptural and artistic works of various graceful shapes, both familiar and strange to human beings.
Hạ Long is also home to great biodiversity with typical eco-systems like mangrove forest, coral and tropical forest. It is also home to thousands of plants and animals of numerous species, for example shrimp, fish and squid. Some species are particularly rare and can be found no where else.
With such special values, at the 18th Session of UNESCO’s Council of World Heritage held on 17 December 1994 in Thailand, Hạ Long Bay was officially placed on the list of the World Natural Heritage. In 2000, UNESCO recognized it as the World Heritage for the second time for its geographical and geomorphologic values. This confirms the global premier value of Hạ Long Bay.
Quang Binh ( Phong Nha Cave )
Phong Nha-cave A pleasant, sleepy town, Phong Nha is nestled at the foot of a series of limestone cliffs in an otherwise flat region, 45 km to the northwest of Dong Hoi.
The limestone massifs are similar to those seen on the Andaman coast of Thailand and mark are stark change in the geology of Vietnam as you pass from south to north.
The only reason to visit Phong Nha is to visit the Phong Nha cave system, but an overnight here makes sense if you have time in your schedule.
If you're one who considers caves to be nothing more than a hole in the ground, you have to see this cave to realize just how mistaken you are.
There’s a cave, there's big caves and there's gigantic, world record-breaking caves like what you'll see in Phong Nha. If you've only got time for one cave in your holidays, this is it.
The town is located along the main road from highway 14, stretching 2 km to the boat landing for the caves. Accommodation is generally good and not too expensive. It's a good place for a restful night if you've been harrying about Vietnam from hot-spot to hot-spot.
My Son Sanctuary is set in a small valley belonging to Duy Phu Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province, about 70km southwest of Danang City and 40km from Hoi An City. Of the 225 Cham vestiges that are founded in Vietnam, My Son possesses 71 monuments and 32 epitaphs, the content of which is still being studied.
The Cham Kingdom had two sanctuaries belonging to two main opposing clans. My Son of the Dua Clan, ruled over the north of the kingdom and was the place for the worship of God Srisana Bhadresvara. The Cau Clan, who reigned over the south, had Po Nagar Sanctuary, dedicated to Goddess Po Nagar. Nevertheless, My Son was considered as the sanctuary of the Cham Kingdom.
Architecture in My Son
The temples in My Son were built into groups that basically followed the same model. Each group was comprised of a main sanctuary (kalan), surrounded by towers and auxiliary monuments. The kalan, which is a symbol of Meru Mountain (centre of the universe, where the gods live) is dedicated to Shiva. The small temples are devoted to the spirits of the eight compass points. In the towers, topped with tiled, curved roofs, were stocked the offerings and sacred objects of the pilgrims. Cham temples do not have windows, so they are very dark inside. Windows are only found on the towers.
Cham towers and temples are built of bricks associated with sandstone decorations. It is quite noteworthy that no adhesive can be seen in between the bricks, which is amazing since some of the works have survived thousands of years. The structures were built, and only then did the sculptors carve the decorations of floral patterns, human figures or animals. This technique is unique in Asia.
Every kalan in My Son is comprised of three parts: the bhurloka (foundations), the bhurvaloka (body of the tower) and the svarloka (roof).
In December, 1999, at the 23th meeting of World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Marrakesh, Marocco, My Son was recognized as world cultural heritage based on two prominent criterions: typical example about cultural exchange and unique evidence of disappeared Asia civilization
Relics of Hue
Complex of Hue Monuments lies along the Perfume River in Hue City and some adjacent areas of Thua Thien Hue Province. Hue City constitutes the cultural, political and economic centre of the province, and was the old imperial city of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945.
Located in the centre of Hue, along the Perfume (Huong) River’s northern bank, the complex of royal architecture represents and demonstrates the power of the Nguyen Dynasty's centralism. Contained in this complex are Kinh Thanh Hue (the Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (the Royal Citadel or Imperial City) and Tu Cam Thanh (the Forbidden Citadel) clustered together, symmetrically placed along the longitudinal axis and facing to the south.
Surrounded by a square wall, almost 600 meters in length on each side, the Imperial City has four gates, of which the south gate (Ngo Mon) is most typical in construction and is widely seen and recognized as the symbol of Hue Citadel. It served not only as the main entrance but was also the place where important events of the dynasty took place. Within the area of the Imperial City, the Forbidden Citadel was the area reserved for daily activities of the royal family.
In addition, place-names that embellish for the beauty of the Complex of Hue Monuments can be named as: Huong River, Ngu Binh Mountain, Thien Mu Pagoda, Bach Ma Mountain, the Thuan An and Lang Co Beaches...
At the meeting of the 17th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Columbia, from the 6th to the 11th of December 1993, UNESCO has come to the decision of recognizing the architectural ensemble of Hue as a world cultural heritage. This was a noteworthy event in the cultural history. For the reason that Hue is the first site in Vietnam ever listed in the World Heritage list.
Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An is an old town down the Thu Bon River, on the coastal plain of Quang Nam Province, about 30 km south of Danang City. Hoi An used to be known on the international market with many different names such as Lam Ap, Faifo, Hoai Pho and Hoi An.
What is so special about Hoi An is that this little port town is in an incredible state of preservation. It offers some of the most densely-concentrated sights in Vietnam with its old streets bordered with ancient houses and assembly halls, its pagodas, temples, ancient wells and tombs. In total, more than a thousand places of interest. The architecture of Hoi An is characterized by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An is still respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and of its sophisticated culinary art. Set in a quiet environment, Hoi An is surrounded by peaceful villages that have crafts such as carpentry, bronze making, ceramic...
Researchers said most of the buildings in Hoi An underwent restoration at the beginning of the 19th century, even if they might be constructed long time ago. The ancient architecture shown most clearly in the Ancient Town that located in Minh An Ward. It covers about 2 square kilometers and almost of all famous relics in Hoi An are gathered here. The streets are very short and narrow, having a winding, crossing as the chessboard style. The topography of the ancient town tilts gradually from north to south. The building in the old town is built mostly with traditional materials such as: brick, wood and no more than two floors. The traces of time is able to find not only on the architectural design of each building but also everywhere like: on the yin-yang roof tiles covered with moss and plants; the old gray mold walls; the pictures carved on a strange animal, or describing a old story… Having inherited a multi-cultural architecture so varied and sophisticated, Hoi An must have attracted numerous and talented workers in carpentry, ceramics, and woodcarving from China, Japan and other regions of Vietnam.
Rich in traditions and early exposed to the outside world, the Hoi An people feature a unique cultural identity, which has been well preserved from generation to generation. Lives of people who stay here incline to be interior with subtle quiet. In the mind of the natives of Hoi An, this town constitutes a large ancient home that shelters a big family of many descendants including hospitable dwellers, friendly hosts and hostesses, kind-hearted women, obedient children and so on. They together form a harmonious community who has lived peacefully side by side through successive generations.
The architectural significance of Hoi An has been recognized by UNESCO, during the 23rd Congress which took place in Marrakech (Morocco) from the 29th of November to the 4th of December 2009, since the town was officially listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.