Vietnam, Cat Ba – Climbing in Wild Nature
Vietnam is no destination where climbers would travel intentionally. Yet once you are there you should try its climbing areas. We travelled to Cat Ba island which I highly recommend to any climber.
There are many sporting acitvities you can do on the island. Asia Outdoors is the most searched for adventure agency. You may find it in Cat Ba town. Three places are available for climbing on the island – Butterfly Valley, Moody Beach, or Deep Water Soloing where you climb or boulder without a rope.
Butterfly Valley is situated in the inland's western regions. A blind road runs there north of Cat Ba town. There is a lake and several simple local houses. The concrete panel road at valley's end, there is the turn with the sign Butterfly Valley and a parking lot adjacent to a kiosk there. Right at this moment you may spot on which wall you may climb. How you can get there? Once you walk several meters towars a wall covered with forest you will spot a WC signon your left and direction to the climbing route on your right. You will walk among houses for a while but soon the only trail leading to the wall. Locals don't speak English so be prepared for som thorough search. No admittance fee to enter the wall is required. This high wall is surrounded by thick green cover and routes of different lenghts and difficulty are on it.
Moody Beach is an alternative. Set out there anyway, however. The beach is wonderful and situated close to quiant islands in teh bay itself. When on the top of a climbing route, you will love the vista. To get there, hire the aforementioned sporting agency. Climbing on the Moody Beach is doable only in the afternoon because sun shines here in the morning and water floods almost the entire beach. In the afternoon, the climbing conditions are much more pleasant. Our group of ten accessed 5 climbing routes in 3 hours. One route was designated for complete beginners, the other two were of 5c difficulty. These routes go very high and offer splendid vistas. The last two routes are the most difficult. Experienced climbers will enjoy an overhang in the upper part of the 6b route. Rocks are very sharp so be careful.
Další lezeckou specialitou v zátoce Lan Ha Bay je lezení Deep Water Soloing is another climbing specialty in Lan Ha Bay. This type of climbing is without any safe equipment and above sufficiently deep water in case one falls or jumps off the rock. However, this is activity is doable in the morning only as you can do it only during high tide (during low tide water surface is over one meter lower which makes getting on the route more difficult). The agency I hired for the cruise, takes you to two routes situated somewhere in the middle of the island. A small boat with a climbing crew of six slows down by the easiest of both routes. Nobody is surprised to see a route of 4 difficulty. However, many are not prepared to make a training jump off the terrace 2.5 meters above the water at the peak of the trail. Yes, the guide was right. The following jump was from a higher altitude so one would get used to higher heights. A climber gets ready on the nose of the boat. A boat stops at the rock and once a climber gets on the rock the boat goes backward and everybody watch how well he manages to climb. Other routes in the area were much more difficult. We all tried to beat the overhang on the 6a route. There one mustn't jump but only bounces off the rock when tired or simply slips. A high number of jellyfish in local waters is an unpleasant problem one should avoid when jumping.
After a 15-minute ride, a vista over another rock wall opened to us. An H-Beam about 2 meters above the water surface dominated the vista. It is long and many are troubled by it. On the right side of the wall, there is a beautiful way of 5c difficulty, which goes up to 3,5 meters. The wall is very high as well as the climbing ways. The climbing routes of difficulty 7 and over are literally going up into the skies. The guide demonstrated how easily one can climb up 15 meters on the wall, but how difficult it is to jump down. Still, I think anyone who fancies climbing, water, and jumping would love this and make it a highlight of his vacation.
GPS: (Butterfly Valley) 20°46'04.3"N 106°59'38.7"E
Text and photos: Martina Brožková
Today we are about to enjoy our last amazing trip in Vietnam, we originally intended to visit the Ba Vi National Park, but for time constraints we had to change our program because we need to reserve at least two days for this park. So we had a hotel counseling and planned a trip to a place that was not even mentioned in our book guide, although it is very popular for tourists (even for local people). Today, we go to visit the largest Vietnamese pagoda Bai Dinh and then explore the beautiful complex Trang An.
Do you think which destination is the right one for you? Where is something interesting and unusual? Where you can find beautiful landscape, excellent cuisine, and pleasant locals? Well, I know where to go. My favorite place is... Vietnam and I will try to convince you in the next few articles that even for you this is the right choice.
Upon our arrival and first impressions of Vietnam, we take a tour of Hanoi. The guide first takes us to Ba Dinh Square, which is famous especially for Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
We imagined the visit to the lake as relaxing time after quite a busy day. The reality was seriously different from our expectations. I have remembered the first impression until today. With my daughter and son, we dodged through the local traffic and it was not really easy. The flood of motorcycles was not to stop. We naively thought that someone might slow down or even stop. Don't expect that. Just walk to the other end of the road. And be brave.
Immediately after arriving at Sa Pa, stay and do not waste your time. With clear visibility, the best choice is to arrange a lift to Phan Xi Pang. It is the longest cableway in the world that uses a three-lane system. Its length is about 6 km and was opened in 2016. It is still being built here. True, for tourists who enjoy the virgin nature with a mountain cottage, it probably will not. Several pagodas, sanctuaries, even a train have been built on top, which will take you to the highest point. The prospects are really good, and the landscape here is on your palm.
One day trip to the Bach Ma National Park, approximately 40 kilometers from Hue, was one of our best days in Vietnam. The park was founded in 1991 and its name means a white horse. It covers an area of 220 square kilometers.
Nha Trang is practically the most famous tourist resort in Vietnam, not so much for some landmarks, this coastal city of Khanh Hoa province is famous for its seven kilometers long sandy beach with adjacent islands. The city of approximately 392,000 inhabitants and this number is growing steadily.
After a tough night-train trip, we arrive early in the morning to Da Nang City, where we do not stay very much. First we head to perhaps the most beautiful Vietnamese city - the Hoi An lantern, from which we go for a trip to the Marble Mountains, Vietnamese Ngũ Hành Sơn.
Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam's most famous and popular tourist destinations. It is located in Tonkin Bay in the South China Sea in Quang Ninh Province. Since 1994 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ha Long means the place where the dragon descends into the sea. It is also said that thanks to the dragon there were created interesting limestone rocks from the sea, which attract many tourists every year.
Phu Quoc is the name of the largest Vietnamese island situated in the Gulf of Thailand close to Cambodia. Islands in the Gulf of Thailand are beautiful this one is no difference. The island is mere 50 kilometers long (from north to south). In the north the island is wide and it narrows down towards the south. Majority of the island is covered in green but this will not be the case in the future. The island features beautiful sand and palms. Who would love this?
When visiting south Vietnam, go to the Mekong river delta. The river originates in China and runs across five countries. It is however in Vietnam where it enters the sea. The area lures in tourists who may experience boat rides here, a floating market, or see interesting life of the locals on the riverbank. Its brown color is not appealing for locals use it to their everyday activities – washing, cleaning etc. There are no dangerous animals in the river so you can swim in it.
Cat Ba is an island southeast of Vietnam. It was very difficult to get there until recently. In September, a new road featuring a bridge made it easier to travel to the island. Hence, Cat Ba is a popular tourist resort. You may buy a ticket to Cat Ba town in Hanoi and Ninh Binhu zakoupit. It takes 4 hours to get there from Ninh Binhu and 3 hours from Hanoi.
Last year already, we brought you a video of the "wedding" town of Dat Lat, Vietnam. Our reporteur made a return there to ride down one of the best roads in Vietnam for a road trip on motorbike.
Omnipresent honking, grandmas pulling bikes with flowers, Vietnamese sitting on small chairs, food, bikes, wires, bikes, French cafes, bikes with food, bikes with chairs, bike transporting part of another bike… Welcome to Hanoi! It is a city crazy beyond believe. You either love it or you hate it eternally.
Da Nang (a city almost in the geographic center of Vietnam) is largely unknown. Which is unfortunate. An average tourist usually passes by there in a taxi on his way from the airport to his favorite Hoi An hotel…. I spent three weeks in Da Nang. And the city got on the list of my favorite places in Southeast Asia (right next to Chiang Mai). In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson called the old road to Hue as the “abandoned fragment of perfection.” I absolutely agree.
Upon an hour of waiting for a visa I was free to explore the capital of the country I really looked forward to exploring. First of all, I somehow let a cab driver to make a 300 crown rip off. Sometimes things like this happen. But honestly – this happens in Prague as well. Aboard the airplane I could see streets where millions of bikes stream in all directions. And “down” here the traffic is even more crazy. If I compare Ho Chi Minh city to Bangkok, a city of comparable size, in the former there are much less traffic jams. One must add that there is no subway, or rail that would go above the ground. It seems that high taxes on car is working.
As much as I hate to travel by bus, I would repeat the ride from Nha Trang and Da Lat. The former is the city of two hundred thousand. It is the most popular spot to spend honeymoon at in Vietnam. It is situated at 1500 meters in the Central Highlands. You can enjoy a number of great views while on the road. And it gets even better on bike …
Our journey continued to Hue (Huế), the former capital of Vietnamese emperors situated in the central Vietnam.
Even though the title suggest some offensive connotations we were did not intend to disgrace royal tombs as if we were in an action movie. A rented bike, however, solved our problems. The tombs around Hue are scattered along vast area. Before relying on public transportation it is better to pay couple of crowns to rent a bike.
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