Da Lat, Lan Ha Bay among Asia’s ‘Underrated’ Tourist Destinations: CNN

The Central Highlands resort town of Da Lat and Lan Ha Bay in northern Vietnam have been included in the CNN list of "18 most underrated places in Asia."

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Da Lat, Lan Ha Bay among Asia's 'Underrated' Tourist Destinations: CNN
Lan Ha Bay is a stretch of shimmering water broken up by limestone (karst) islands. Photo: Getty Images

According to CNN, visitors who want to ply the waters with a lot fewer neighbors should head to Lan Ha, south of UNESCO-recognized Ha Long Bay.

“Like its more famous sibling, Lan Ha Bay is a stretch of shimmering water broken up by limestone (karst) islands that can be enjoyed by day trip (kayak, canoe) or overnight (cruise ship, junk boat).”

Most travelers get here by bus or car from Hanoi or Haiphong, and it’s easy to set up door-to-door service with tour companies in advance.

“Leave from Cat Ba Island to explore Lan Ha Bay’s grottoes, caves and white-sand beaches,” CNN suggested.

To fully enjoy the beauties of limestone islets as well as the landscapes of Lan Ha Bay, tourists should travel by kayak.
To fully enjoy the beauties of limestone islets as well as the landscapes of Lan Ha Bay, tourists should travel by kayak. Photo: VNA

Linking Ha Long Bay of Quang Ninh province with Cat Ba archipelago, Lan Ha Bay is like a silk ribbon made from green mountains, blue sea and diverse fauna and flora. It is a tranquil, curved body of water featuring about 400 islands.

Lan Ha Bay spreads more than 7,000 hectares, including 5,400 hectares under the management of Cat Ba National Park, VietnamPlus said.

Aside from beautiful beaches, its attractiveness also lies in limestone mountain ranges that divide the sea into smaller bays, lagoons and caves, many of which are unexplored.

Lan Ha Bay boasts 139 small and quiet sandbanks, many of which are located between two rocky mountains – a feature bringing peace and ripples, making these sandbanks ideal bathing beaches.

Da Lat, Lan Ha Bay among Asia's 'Underrated' Tourist Destinations: CNN
A typical tourism product in Lan Ha Bay is small fishing villages. Photo: VNA

A typical tourism product in Lan Ha Bay is small fishing villages and those that farm local specialties such as Asian green mussel, clam, cobia, crab, abalone and grouper. Many of such aquaculture farms supply fresh seafood for tourists when they set foot in the bay.

Two places of interest many travel companies introduce to visitors are Van Gia fishing village, which is more than 100 years old, and Viet Hai fishing village, which is almost entirely isolated from modern life.

For Da Lat, CNN said “With its fresh mountain air and pine forests in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Da Lat is a popular destination for local Vietnamese that isn’t as well known among international travelers.”

At 1,500 meters above sea level, the city’s cooler weather is a welcome reprieve from the tropical humidity found elsewhere in the Southeast Asian country. Plentiful waterfalls and a vibrant flower industry mean that delights abound in the city for honeymooners and nature lovers.

Da Lat, Lan Ha Bay among Asia's 'Underrated' Tourist Destinations: CNN
With its fresh mountain air and pine forests in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Da Lat is a popular destination for local Vietnamese. Photo: Tien Phong newspaper

Though Da Lat is famous for its French colonial heritage and year-round cool climate in a tropical country, the town is not a popular choice among foreign visitors due to limited transport infrastructure and tourism services.

Other destinations in the list are the Indian state of Meghalaya, Pulau Ubin Island in Singapore, Samosir Island in Indonesia, Tengchong in China, and Gogunsan Islands in the Republic of Korea (RoK).

Earlier, Da Lat ranked 3rd in the list of top destinations around the world to admire flowers. The flower power ranking came from tourists surveyed in 28 countries, according to US-based online booking travel agency Booking.com.

“Often known as the city of thousands of flowers, Da Lat is home to various flower parks, farms and festivals, each decorating the city with colorful blooms and rich green landscapes,” said the agency.

Da Lat is charming and beautiful, with houses in old French architecture surrounded by colourful gardens during all four seasons. (Photo: Vietnam+)
Da Lat is charming and beautiful, with houses in old French architecture surrounded by colourful gardens during all four seasons. Photo: VietnamPlus

Coming here, visitors are mesmerized by fragrances from hundreds of flower species. The most famous garden that attracts visitors all year round is in the center of Da Lat featuring arches of flowers arranged in a gate, facing Xuan Huong Lake, it said.

The lavender flower gardens by Tuyen Lam Lake, sunflower fields at Da Lat Milk Farm, Trai Mat hydrangea flower fields and cherry blossom roads are other lovely spots that travelers should not miss when visiting the city, it added.

Situated on a plateau around 1,500 meters above sea level, Da Lat enjoys year-round cool weather that is in contrast to Vietnam’s tropical climate.

Vast fields of wild sunflowers in full bloom give Da Lat a romantic and dreamy beauty. (Photo: Vietnam+)
Vast fields of wild sunflowers in full bloom give Da Lat a romantic and dreamy beauty. Photo: VietnamPlus

Da Lat is one of Vietnam’s biggest flower-growing regions, producing around three billion flowers every year, 10 percent of which are exported to foreign markets including Japan, the RoK, Taiwan (China), Australia and mainland China.

Da Lat has also been dubbed “Little Paris,” given its colonial standing as a summer hideout for French officials who built villas on the hills to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands./.

Rosy Huong