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Updated May 6, 2011
Caravan teams flock across the border to explore central VN
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Viet Nam’s central provinces are some of the country’s most beloved destinations for travellers.

Tourists, who prefer to drive through the area in their own cars, opt to enter the country via the border betweenViet Nam and Laos for a three or five-day journey.

Malaysian Ya Yong Leong led a 32-member group with 10 cars through the Lao Bao Border Checkpoint inQuang Tri Province into central Viet Nam.

The caravan group took a 14-day drive from Quang Tri through Hue, Quang Binh, Ha Noi and Ha Long Bay in QuangNinh Province.

It's the first time the 40-year-old Malaysian and the accompanying tourists have travelled through Viet Nam.

"It's very interesting. We had a chance to explore Viet Nam with our cars. We love Vietnamese rice noodles, seafood and the conical hats in Hue as well as the boat trip we took in Ha Long Bay," wrote Ya Yong Leong in an email.

"My friends and I also tested our driving skills on the roads in Viet Nam, which are always busy," he wrote.

"It's the longest caravan tour that I've guided because tourists often opt for a four or five-day adventure along the coast and through cities."

"The pristine beaches in Da Nang and historical sites in Hue are places that Thai and Malaysian tourists enjoy seeing the most," said tour guide Nguyen Hong Tuan.

Vitours travel agency's manager Nguyen Nhat Thanh Tung said the company organises 10 caravan trips monthly, which tour the central region's major historical sites.

Tourists from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore often drive from their own countries and cross at the Lao border and enter Viet Nam.

Tourists often spend a half day driving from Lao Bao to Hue. The 140km route passes by several famous historical sites including Khe Sanh, Lang Vay, Rockpile and Hamburger hills, which were previous battle sites during the American War.

"There are many markets from Lao Bao Border Checkpoint to Hue. Tourists can buy souvenirs or something special from local markets. Each province has its own speciality handicraft and tourists just want to bring a bit of Viet Nam home from their trips," Tuan explained.

The second day in Hue will allow tourists to take a break from their car and enjoy a boat trip on the Huong (Perfume) River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda and the former Imperial City in the morning.

Tourists can also indulge in a lunch with fresh seafood at Lang Co fishing village, 70km from Hue. The village filled with pristine white beaches was voted as one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

Tourists can test their driving skills on one of the several mountain passes in the area, including Phu Gia, Phuoc Tuong and Hai Van.

Although the 6km Hai Van tunnel was built in 2005, caravan tourists often prefer to drive on the breathtaking 24km road above tunnel.

Just 60km from Lang Co is the historic town of Hoi An.

Tung, Vitours travel agency manager, said adventurous tourists also have the option of designing their own route through Dien Bien Province.

The high chassis cars are the most popular choice for caravan teams fromThailand and Malaysia.

They often use four-wheel drive cars or vans which help them to weather the long, tough roads.

(Source: VNS)


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