Binh Lieu, Vietnam’s latest trendy tourist hotspot

Everyone who has ever travelled to Vietnam has heard of Ha Long Bay, the magical limestone kingdom off the emerald waters of Quang Ninh Province. However, the northeastern province, bordering China, has another tourist draw which few have heard of but is an up and coming tourist hub - Binh Lieu District.

binh lieu vietnams latest trendy tourist hotspot
The gorgeous beauty of Binh Lieu

From a doubtful resolution…

In July 31, 2015, the Binh Lieu District Party Committee issued a resolution on tourism development during the 2015-2020 period, with orientation to 2030. The resolution was greeted with skepticism, given decades of deprivation in the mountainous region and its remoteness. Generations of district leaders had been far too concerned with hunger eradication and poverty alleviation to focus on the potential benefits of the region’s natural beauty and cultural richness.

The man who turned the resolution into reality is Cao Tuong Huy, former secretary of the Binh Lieu District Party Committee and deputy chair of the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee. Huy decided the time had come to turn tourism into the district’s key economic sector. Following discussions with local leaders, tourism development was included in the district’s socioeconomic development plan. The Binh Lieu District People’s Committee submitted its plans to the provincial people’s committee, and established a steering committee for tourism development.

binh lieu vietnams latest trendy tourist hotspot
Binh Lieu District owns traditional culture of ethnic minorities

It was then time to let the world in on the district’s secrets. In the ensuing years, Binh Lieu District promoted information dissemination on mass media and prestigious travel websites, strengthened investment in infrastructure, and improved the quality of human resources in the tourism industry.

Plans for the preservation and promotion of cultural values were widely disseminated to the Tay, Dao, San, and Chi ethnic minorities, which rose to the challenge of providing tourism offerings in their villages.

…to a thriving district

inh Lieu District currently has 18 accommodations with 197 rooms, in addition to homestays such as A Dao and Song Mooc in Dong Van Commune, and Hoang San in Hoanh Mo Commune.

The results have been obvious. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Hanh, chair of the Binh Lieu District People’s Committee, said the district welcomed about 33,000 visitors in 2015. In the first seven months of 2019, that figure surged to 53,046 bringing in about VND20 billion. The presence of domestic tourists is felt especially on weekends.

binh lieu vietnams latest trendy tourist hotspot
So (Camellia sasanqua) flowers, a symbol of Binh Lieu

Authorities are hoping to make the district as popular as the Sa Pa border region to the west, but the tourism industry has yet to meet the goal of contributing over 20 percent to the district’s economic growth as targeted by the 2015 resolution. However, prospects remain bright as the Hoanh Mo-China’s Dong Zhong border gate will be opened in 2020, and more tourism projects are launched. With the determination of businesses and the best conditions of local government, the district will be an attractive destination in the near future, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Hanh said.

Binh Lieu District, around 270km from Hanoi, enjoys relatively cool summers. Winter can get quite cold and icy but brings with it the season of highland festivals, usually after the Lunar New Year (Tet), whereas late March promises vistas of wild flowers.

Hoang Mai