A half-built national tourism area around the Nui Coc Dam in the northern highlands province of Thai Nguyen is already an attraction.
Though the 19,000-hectare project is only scheduled for completion in 2020, the works that have been finished so far and the landscapes are worth a day trip from Hanoi.
The reservoir, built in 1973, has 89 large and small islands along its 17-kilometer length.
It takes an hour to go around the lake by boat, but those who love excitement can take high-speed boats.
Tourists can visit islands like Co (stork), De (goat), and Khi (monkey), named after animals inhabiting them.
On other islands, they can enjoy the quiet atmosphere of local villages, or pay a visit to the temple of Mau Thuong Ngan, one of Vietnam’s three goddesses.
The most famous island is Nui Cai (big mountain), where more than 1,000 products from more than 90 craft villages around the country are displayed at an old house. But to reach it one has to climb 108 steps, along which, on the hill, are hundreds of graves and large old trees that give the place an air of mystery.
Not far from the old house is another which is estimated to be 200 years old.
Also on this island is an outdoor museum displaying hundreds of terracotta copies of relics from cultures like the Sa Huynh, which is believed to have flourished between 1000BCE and 200CE in central and southern Vietnam, and the Oc Eo in the Mekong Delta in the first to sixth centuries.
Among them are statues of lions, tigers, and elephants and reliefs covered with human shapes.
HOW TO GET THERE?
From Hanoi: Go along the National Road 3 to reach Thai Nguyen Town some 80 kilometers away. Head to Dai Tu District. Pass the Tan Cuong tea hills which stretch for nearly 20 kilometers to reach Nui Coc.
Nui Cai offers a panoramic view of Thai Nguyen’s largest hydropower dam, which is 500 meters long.
One of the main attractions of the tourist area is a theme park that includes a water park covering some 3.4 hectares and a one-hectare forest with monkeys and deer and introduced species such as ostrich.
Huyen Thoai Cung (legendary palace), Ba Cay Thong (three pine trees), and The Gioi Co Tich (fairytale world) artificial caves have been completed for visitors to see as they pass through by boat, and have artworks on their walls.
At Huyen Thoai Cung, a legend about Nui Coc will be narrated with graphic and audio tools.
The legend has it that the lake was formed by the tears of a woman who was mourning the death of her lover. The man had died and turned into a mountain earlier, after her father separated them due to the differences in their family backgrounds.
Around 200 guest rooms are being built on hills while food and drinks, especially Thai Nguyen specialties like freshwater fish that weigh up to 10 kilograms, are sold. A hotel is also built inside three large statues near Ba Cay Thong Cave.