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The beginning of the year means Spring, the rebirth of radiance and beauty. Man’s greatest aspiration is a journey of experiences and there is nothing more remarkable than the year’s first trip on Spring roads.

Most of the Spring roads of our beloved Vietnamese land have an irresistible attraction towards the footsteps of travelers, even if they have set foot in that place many times before. Spring trips along the roads of the homeland are not only intriguing during that excursion or even that season, but they continue to excite throughout the year.

As a travel industry professional, it is natural that I often find myself thinking about my past trips as I prepare for my upcoming journeys. As the old year ends and we begin welcoming the new year, I am already thinking about the next 365 days of discovery. The earliest trip of the year will kick off the Spring, and the last trip of the year will bring it full circle as I prepare for the following Spring. And as fate would have it, my first and last trip of the year are both in my dear S-shaped country.

The beauty of Northwest highland. – Photo credit: Nguyen Anh Tuan

Leaving to return

All travelers share the same eagerness before they depart, similar to the feelings they have as they approach something new during their travels, and that same sense of regret as the journey comes to a close. And all adventurers consider the stories gathered during their discoveries as a rare gift that can’t be found in our routine life.

In our country, there are a variety of local tourism products that have become famous brands. This gives visitors a special impression while creating competitive value thanks to the diversity in destinations and products. I had the opportunity to travel many of the routes through the 63 provinces and cities in my own country under the role of a traveler. I chose a mode of travel that prioritized interaction, so I could connect with people and nature, between tangible and intangible culture, between reality and dreams—a way that I could experience with pride the valuable natural, cultural and traditional qualities of our country's tourism.

A strange feeling that I cannot explain is that have never felt bored or uninterested when revisiting the same destination for the second or third time. Perhaps visiting a place again is like enjoying Tet every year—each year it comes we impatiently wait as if we were children again.

Perhaps visiting a place again is like enjoying Tet every year—each year it comes we impatiently wait as if we were children again.

Every trip in our homeland is, to me, a new story that reveals different secrets. At least, for me, I always have a story after each journey. Most of the time, the story is subjective, but it brings excitement to me, because each place leaves me with strong feelings and unique experiences. This sentiment can only be explained as a son longing for the Motherland.

Discovering the diverse beauty of three regions

Vietnam has the advantage of 3,260 km of coastline and hundreds of bays and islands. If the maritime routes such as Ha Long, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phu Quoc have occupied the top travel destinations, attracting tens of millions of domestic and international tourists each year, some new areas that have gained recent recognition are Ninh Chu, Quy Nhon and Phu Yen located along the Central Coast. With these three routes, tourists can choose single-route tours for one destination, or multi-route tours to connect two or more places. The Ly Son Island District of Quang Ngai province, Nam Du Island of Kien Giang province or Con Co Island in Quang Tri province are emerging as the favorite choices of young tourists, promising to bring more products and services to these coastal tourism areas in near future.

Hoi An often brings Vietnamese travelers a tranquil sense of life of an ancient town and the ability to travel back to the land’s unforgettable memories. This is always an option for this type of cultural tourism. My hometown used to have an ancient town that looked similar to Hoi An, but time has virtually erased everything, which is a pity. For my Spring trip, I often choose Hoi An, because I know it will bring me joy through its colorful scenes and lively atmosphere during the first days of the Lunar New Year.

For my Spring trip, I often choose Hoi An, because I know it will bring me joy through its colorful scenes and lively atmosphere during the first days of the Lunar New Year.

Cultural tourism is a strength of Vietnam, and most of our current famous or up and coming destinations are related to culture and history. Among the candidates that promise to surprise the Vietnam travel sector in the coming years is Thanh Hoa.

When it comes to spiritual tourism, Con Dao has occupied the leading position. Of course, tourists also come to Con Dao because its charming islands are more tranquil than others on the coastal route.

Any journey of spiritual tourism would be incomplete without visiting Quang Tri, where the “fire” line was during the war. We still retain those unforgettable feelings as we experience Truong Son Cemetery and burn incense in the evening at the Road 9 National Martyrs' Cemetery. I will always remember the special experience as I offered incense then followed the boat to Thach Han River and dropped wreaths and flowers in the river, surrounded by hundreds of people in absolute silence during that sacred moment.

Rural and mountain tourism is still focused between two routes whose strengths reside in their high location, climate and ethnic culture, along with their well-invested and professional tourism infrastructures: Dalat in the South and Sapa in the North. The Northwest and Northeast regions always leave travelers with amazing feelings, especially since the Spring brings the slightly chilly weather and the real-life art of blooming flowers all over Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, Son La, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Thai Nguyen and Tuyen Quang. In Autumn, the terraced rice fields turn golden throughout Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai) and Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang). Mountain tourism is in its developmental period, promising to bring many surprises with the blossoming beauty of Ba Be (Bac Kan), Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong, and others of the Central Highlands.

Eo Gio, Binh Dinh Province

River tourism has been a particular “dish” on the tourism menu of our country, and is still, and will always be, the choice of millions of visitors annually. There is an opinion that the beauty of the West is similar throughout the whole region. However, once I visited the tropical fruit gardens and floating market routes, as well as the historic and cultural places in the West, I realized that each place here offers specialties imbued with their own qualities that cannot be found anywhere else. The only element that is seen throughout this region is the friendliness and generosity of the Western people. And Vinh Long, like a stunning, graceful and mysterious woman, remains in our minds.

River tourism has been a particular “dish” on the tourism menu of our country, and is still, and will always be, the choice of millions of visitors annually.

Discovering caves, a form of adventure tourism, is continually full of excitement, during the “Spring Roads of Vietnam Tourism.” When referring to caves, the amazing sensation of Quang Binh tourism comes to mind with Phong Nha–Ke Bang, Thien Duong and Son Doong. Many other provinces also feature caves, such as Nguom Ngao (Cao Bang), Lung Khuy (Ha Giang) and Hua Ma (Bac Kan). When visiting Lai Chau, you will agree with me that Pu Sam Cap is “the grandest cave of the North” with its overlapping caverns and limestone mountain range, formed during the tectonic era, and the karst terrain has formed whimsical stalactites.

Presently, homestays are the new trendy experience. Originally designed to serve international guests, in recent years, they have attracted more domestic guests, especially younger tourists. This variety of lodging allows guests to explore local culture more intimately. This model was applied only in rural ethnic villages high up in the mountains, but its presence has spread to the plains, islands and even to big cities. Sin Sui Ho of the Hmong people in Sin Sui Ho commune, Phong Tho district, Lai Chau province; Pu Luong in Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa province, or localities in Vinh Long, Dong Thap will add more colors to homestay options.

Last but not least is border tourism in the areas that have frontiers with neighboring countries and strong tourism potentiality such as Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai and Mong Cai (Quang Ninh). These areas appeal to travelers with journeys of discovery through picturesque and mysterious areas. After many nights sleeping in Sai Gon–Ban Gioc Resort, Cao Bang province; Majestic Mong Cai hotel, Mong Cai city, Lang Son; or many other hotels and motels along the border areas, after a good night's sleep, the experience of joining the ceremony of waving the national flag and singing the national anthem at dawn on the sacred border areas adds spiritual value to any trip. Travel lesson learned: nowhere can equal the homeland!

--Texts: Dat Nguyen

--Photos: From Savour Vietnam Contest

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