Do Son Peninsula in Hai Phong has some of the most popular beaches in the north
On our last trip to the town in early June we saw it preparing to welcome even more visitors in 2013 since Hai Phong has been chosen to organize the main activities for the National Tourism Year.
Located around 105 kilometers from Hanoi and 20 kilometers from Hai Phong, Do Son is a stunning little peninsula situated between the Lach Tray and Van Uc rivers.
It has the Rong Mountain stretching to the sea. The pine-covered green mountains and hills rising from the blue sea give the place a breathtaking appearance.
According to our guide, when the French colonialists arrived in Hai Phong, they built Do Son into a summer resort town for their officers and upper class Vietnamese. There are still some old villas dating back to that time.
The peninsula is divided into three areas with many beaches surrounded by idyllic hills of pine forests. While zone 1 boasts three large beaches which can accommodate tens of thousands of visitors and has many big hotels and good restaurants, zone 2 has smaller but smoother sand beaches. Here there is a villa previously owned by Vietnam’s last king, Bao Dai, and now serves as good accommodation for those seeking romantic moments.
But the most peaceful area is zone 3 which has some of the most luxurious hotels and villas nestling in shady pine forests including the newly built Hon Dau Resort and Van Hoa villa.
Hon Dau Island
It takes us some 20 minutes by boat from Nghieng Port to Hon Dau Island, which is one of the most beautiful spots in Do Son with its large mountains and forests.
While Do Son Peninsula is seen as a dragon, Hon Dau Island is like a gem the dragon is reaching for.
HOW TO GET THERE?
|Visitors going by car or motorbike can follow National Road No. 5 to Hai Phong. Drive to Lach Tray Street in the city’s center and then Cau Rao Port. There is a signpost showing the way from Cau Rao Port to Do Son, which is some 20 kilometers away.
By bus: From Gia Lam Station, take a Hai Au bus to Cau Rao Port. From here, catch a Thinh Hung bus to Do Son.
WHERE TO STAY
|Bao Dai Villa, Zone 2, Tel: 031 3 862 303
Hon Dau Resort, Zone 3, Tel: 031 3 864 939
Do Son villa, Zone 2, Tel: 031 3 861 226
A small temple named Nam Hai Dai Than Vuong stands right at the wharf. Our guide said the temple was first built in the 13th century in honor of a Tran Dynasty military leader whose body was found floating near the island after a battle with Chinese invaders. He has since been called Lord Nam Hai and revered as the god of the island.
According to locals, Lord Nam Hai has protected the island and no one dares take anything away from there. Old people here tell the story of a fisherman who took a tree branch from the island to repair his boat. But the very next day it met with an accident. The man believed it was due to the wrath of Nam Hai brought the branch back to the island. The tale may well be apocryphal, but it has helped preserve Hon Dau’s beauty.
The island is also a good place for bird-watching and fishing. Its roads are shaded by huge old banyan trees, and the setting is tranquil and almost mystical but also romantic.
To bring more tourists to this wonderful place, Hai Phong built a passenger jetty in May to facilitate travel by boat on the Do Son – Cat Ba – Ha Long – Mong Cai route in future. The opening of the port also marked the opening of the 2012 Hai Phong-Do Son Tourism Festival.
Bao Dai Villa
Bao Dai Villa, situated at the top of the 36-meter Vung Hill, was built in 1928 by the then governor-general of Indochina, Pafquiere. It was offered to the king in 1949 and has since been called Bao Dai Villa. He used it every time he visited Hai Phong.
The villa was handed over to the Ministry of Defense in May 1955 after independence and then transferred to the Haiphong Tourism Company. It was renovated and opened to tourists in 1999.
Here visitors can get a panoramic view of Do Son Peninsula and the ocean. They can also learn about the life of the royals, try their food, and buy souvenirs.
Visitors to Do Son are also advised not to miss the historical Bến tàu không số (wharf for unnumbered ships) at the foot of Van Hoa Hill where they can learn more about the Ho Chi Minh Road on the Sea. During the Vietnam War, weapons were sent aboard ships without numbers to the battlefields in the South, with the vessels departing from this port and taking the Ho Chi Minh Road on the Sea.
From Nghieng Port speedboats reach Cat Ba Island in a mere 30-40 minutes. There is also a helipad here.