Mekong Delta Travel in Vietnam 2017
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Around Ha Tien

Mui Nai

The beaches in this area  of Vietnam face the Gulf of Thailand. The water is  pretty  warm and becalmed;  wonderful  for bathing and diving but impossible to surf . The best of them, Mui Nai (Stag’s Head Peninsula; admission person/car 2500/10,000d), supposedly resembling the head of a stag with its mouth pointing upward, is 8km west of Ha Tien. On top is a lighthouse and there are many beaches  on both sides of the peninsula, lined with simple restaurants and guesthouses.

cam nang du lich ha tien

There is  no public transport  to get to  the beach. A xe om here should set you back around 40,000d.

Hon Giang & Nghe Islands

There are a lot of  islands along this coast and some local people  make a living gathering swiftlet nests (the most important ingredient of that famous Chinese delicacy, bird’s-nest soup) from their rocky cliffs.  Around  15km from Ha Tien and  reachable  by small boat, Hon Giang Island has a nice , secluded beach.

cam nang du lich ha tien

Nghe Island, near Hon Chong, is a  nice  pilgrimage site  for Buddhists. The island  contains  a cave pagoda (Chua Hang)  next to a big  statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat, which faces out to sea. Boats moored near Hon Chong’s cave pagoda will set you back  for around US$150.

Hon Chong

You’ll cross  many Khmer  pagodas, Cao Dai temples, grandiose churches and karst outcrops  en route to Hon Chong, home to photogenic stone grottoes and the best  stretch of sand on the delta’s mainland. Unfortunately, a stable  cloud of discharge from a cement factory can blight the otherwise picturesque  views. Beyond the beach, the main draw is  an atmospheric Buddhist cave shrine.

cam nang du lich ha tien

After  crossing  the scrappy village, the road rounds a headland and follows Duong Beach (Bai Duong) for 3km. A fee entering the entrance  is charged only at the far end of the beach (per person/car 5000/10,000d),  where there are  several food  stalls, karaoke bars, and pigs and chickens wandering around. From the beach you  can see many rocky remnants of Father and Son Isle (Hon Phu Tu),  several hundred metres offshore. It was  said to be  shaped like a father embracing his son, yet  the father was washed away in 2006. Boats can be rented  at the shore to row out for a closer look at the orphan remains.

cam nang du lich ha tien

You need to walk across  the market to reach the cave pagoda (Chua Hang), which is located  against the base of a stony headland. The entry to the cave  containing Hai Son Tu (Sea Mountain Temple) is inside the pagoda.  Tourists  light incense and offer prayers here before entering the cool grotto itself, whose entrance is  located behind the altar. Inside are statues of Sakyamuni, Quan The Am Bo Tat and small cabinets enclosing green glass Buddhas. Mind your head on the low-hanging rock roof of the cave leading to the beach. The pagoda is swamped with pilgrims 15 days before and one month after Tet,  while another deluge of worshippers arrives in March and April.

Sleeping & Eating

Green Hill Guesthouse GUEST HOUSE $

( 077-385 4369; r 500,000d) In an impressive  villa on the northern headland of Duong Beach, this well-maintained and nice , family-run  place has many large rooms , including the room of choice on the top floor.

Hontrem Resort RESORT HOTEL $$

( 077-385 4331; ctycpdulichkg@vnn.vn; r US$60) The best  place in Hon Chong by a stretch, Hontrem is draped over a hillock to  the end of the main strip. The hexagonal bungalows are delightfully  set overlooking the sea and consist of  a large bed with light linen and generous baths. They even feature safes for valuables. The gardens are well kept and there’s a famous  restaurant overlooking the beach. Breakfast included.

Tan Phat RESTAURANT $

(mains 30,000-150,000d;  7am-10pm) On Hon Chong’s main road, a kilometre or so before Duong Beach, this seafood restaurant  is just like  a tumbledown shack from the outside, but offers   excellent  food and  amazing sea views.

Getting There & Away

Hon Chong is 32km from Ha Tien to  Rach Gia. The access road branches off the Rach Gia–Ha Tien highway at the small town of Ba Hon. Buses can pick you up  at Ba Hon, from where you can  hire a motorbike to  keep on the journey on to Hon Chong (around 70,000d to 80,000d). A motorbike from Ha Tien will  cost  around 200,000d return.

Tuc Dup Hill

 Because of its network of connecting caves, Tuc Dup Hill (216m)  served as a strategic base of operations during the American War. Tuc dup is Khmer for ‘water runs at night’ and it is also called  locally as ‘Two Million Dollar Hill’, in reference to the amount of money the Americans sank into securing it.

cam nang du lich ha tien

This is a  spot  of historical interest but there isn’t much  to see. You’ll cross  near it if you’re taking the back road through Ba Chuc to Chau Doc.

Ba Chuc

Ba Chuc’s Bone Pagoda stands for  as a  ghastly reminder of the horrors committed  by the Khmer Rouge.  Between 1975 and 1978 Khmer Rouge soldiers regularly crossed the border into Vietnam and slaughtered innocent civilians. Over the border, things were worse ,  where  around  two million Cambodians were killed during the period of Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea regime.

Between the period of  12 April and 30 April 1978, the Khmer Rouge killed 3157 people at Ba Chuc. Only two people are told  to have survived.  A lot of  victims were tortured to death. The Vietnamese government might have had other motives for invading Cambodia at the end of 1978, but certainly outrage at the Ba Chuc massacre was a main  justification.

cam nang du lich ha tien

Undergoing reconstruction at the time of research, the Bone Pagoda has a common grave  housing the skulls and bones of more than 1100 victims. At the time of writing, the skulls were  showed in a small building nearby, separated  by age group (including the minute skulls of toddlers and babies). There is still some blood on the walls above the floor of the Phi Lai Tu temple across the way.

Ba Chuc is set   close to the Cambodian border; to get to  it, let’s follow  the road that runs along the canal from Ha Tien to Chau Doc. Turn off this  main road onto Hwy 3T and follow it for 4km.

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Mekong Delta Travel 1, 2 and 3 Days – Mekong River Vietnam

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