Winter Paradise of Descending Dragons

I am Joan Rio.

Emerald waters, thousands of limestone islands topped by rainforests, a clear blue sky…

I bet you always see this kind of photos on Instagram and as alluring as it is, I too had this written on my bucket list. And one who visits Vietnam wouldn’t miss it for the world. However, many who visit didn’t know the mystery behind its name.

Ha Long Bay (means “descending dragon“), in Northeast Vietnam, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular travel destination as it features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.

According to research, the limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical…

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Going Solo in Vietnam

I am Joan Rio.

“Some journeys can be traveled alone. If you need to wait for someone else, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.”

Even years after she was gone, I can still hear my Mom saying that. I was molded to be independent, brave, and courageous even when I have to decide and do things on my own.

I remember doing the same solo backpacking back home but that was different because people speak in the same tongue and we can understand each other. But this time, going to a foreign land, with nothing but my wits and will, how will this turn out? Well, it turned out to be what it should be – amazing! And I cannot stress that enough.

My history class back in college has always inspired me to visit countries, especially those that have a long and complex history and cultural traditions. For now…

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The Enchanting World of Ninh Binh

I am Joan Rio.

I want adventures. I want to climb the Macchu Picchu in Peru, kiss beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris, experience the never-ending hike in the Great Wall of China, swim in the clear blue waters of Santorini in Greece, ride the blue train through the tea plantation in Sri Lanka, or surf the waves in Hawaii. I might sound so greedy but as I age I realize how big the world is, of how little I know, and how many places I have yet to go, and I want it all! I want to see the world!

My trips were usually based on my itinerary because it’s what I do best. I research before I go, read articles, talk to bloggers, take in recommendations, and stick to the plan. But unexpected, beautiful things don’t happen if you stick on your rigid itineraries, so this time I ditched ’em. I allowed…

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#Vietnam – Once a barrier against invaders, now a beautiful valley

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Chi Lang Passage in Lang Son Province used to be a strategic bulwark for Vietnam and now boasts tourist attractions.
 
Chi Lang Passage is a narrow valley between the Bao Dai mountain range in the east and the Cai Kinh range in the west in the northern province. The mountains form two natural barriers. 
 
Running zigzag along the valley is the Thuong River. Historical accounts show the valley was once regarded as an impenetrable barrier that keep out invaders from the north. King Le Dai Hanh (941-1005) once said the area helped destroy enemies no matter how large and powerful their armies were.
 
From Hanoi, you can follow National Highway 1A to get to the place. It stretches for around 20 km, with the main sights being Chi Lang and Quang Lang communes in Chi Lang District, Lang Son Province.
 Bai Hao Lake, one of the sights…

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#Vietnam – Rough Guides names Ha Long Bay among world’s 100 best places to visit

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 British travel magazine Rough Guides has voted for Ha Long Bay as one of the 100 most beautiful places to visit next year.
 
In the “The Rough Guides to the 100 Best Places on Earth,” the magazine described “the scattering of limestone pinnacles jutting out of the smooth waters of Ha Long Bay”, around four hours east of Hanoi, as an “incredible sight.”
It is the only Vietnamese destination in the list, which covers many historical and cultural sites around the world such as the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Forbidden City in China, Kamniške-Savinja Alps in Slovenia, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, and the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue in Mongolia.
 
Dropping anchor in the bay to explore small islands and caves is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Rough Guides said, adding that “the best junk boats have private cabins and serve gourmet food and in the early…

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#Vietnam – Son Doong Cave an incredible find

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The Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh Province is among the most incredible places in the world recently found, The Telegraph says.

 
The cave, part of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, is the world’s largest, but it did not feature on Vietnam’s tourism map until it was opened for tourists in 2013.
 
The Telegraph has included the once-hidden cave on the list of 11 newly-discovered places that are worth an amazing exploration journey.
 
Son Doong opened to tourists in 2013, four years after members of the British Cave Research Association concluded their initial exploration and declared it the world’s largest cave.
 
The five kilometer-long system, which is 150 meters high and 200 meters wide, contains at least 150 individual caves, a dense subterranean jungle and several underground rivers.
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 Due to limited space, registration for Son…

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Phu Yen, #Vietnam’s land of the rising sun

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 The easternmost province is a top choice for adventures and to enjoy the beauty of nature including some out-of-the-world landscapes.Phu Yen, located on the south central coast, is the first point on the Vietnamese mainland to welcome the sun every morning.

It has a diverse topography consisting of mountains, rivers, lagoons, bays, and islands and a myriad of beautiful natural sights for visitors to explore.

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Phu Yen’s sunny season is from January to around August, and is perfect for sightseeing. There are also lots of local festivals during these months, so remember to check their dates if you want to see them.But April and May can be quite hot, so visitors who choose to go during this period should be mindful and take sun-protection gear and water.

From May until the end of July is the peak domestic tourist season…

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