Ninh Thuan: From a Vineyard to a Thousand-year-old Craft Village
Ninh Thuan welcomed us with days filled with sunshine and wind, and just like the funny saying about Phan Rang goes (the main city of this province), “the sunshine is like being roasted, the wind is like being pounded.” From Saigon, we took a plane to Cam Ranh airport in Khanh Hoa province as there is no direct flight to Ninh Thuan. On the coastal road stretching nearly 100 km from Cam Ranh airport, along the National Road 1A - Provincial road 702 (QL 1A – TL702) to Saigon – Ninh Chu resort, our accommodation for 3 days and 2 nights, we had the opportunity to explore Vinh Hy Bay and Rai Cave, two extremely stunning sea landscapes.
Vinh Hy Bay – Rai Cave
For a panoramic view of Vinh Hy Bay, one of the most striking bays in Vietnam, you can stop at the top of the mountain on the way in, about 1 km from the pier. From here, you can embrace a corner of the bay offering the most beautiful view down to the blue lagoon with lumbering fishing boats on one side and steep hills on the other. We boarded a glass-bottomed boat facing the sea and glided through the bay for about 20 minutes when the boat stopped so we could view the coral through the glass bottom. If you want to explore the world under the sea, you can wear a life jacket and snorkel, jump into the water and freely float with your face in the water to take in scenes of colorful fish and coral. We rewarded ourselves with a lunch of fresh seafood caught right in the bay at a floating restaurant on the way back to the pier.
About 6 km from Vinh Hy Bay is Rai Cave. Situated in the Nui Chua National Park complex, Rai Cave features ancient coral gardens formed naturally over thousands of years. A favorite check-in spot for young people, this place is ideal for admiring gorgeous sunrises. You should also visit the cave at the end of the road, which is known as a shelter for otters, from which the name of this beautiful landscape is taken.
“Reviving the tango rhythms of life”
That is the slogan of the Tanyoli resort (“Tango your life”), situated atop the sand hill of Mui Dinh, where there are 300 days of sunshine a year. Quite isolated on the Ninh Thuan coastal road, the scenery here is pristine, making this area the best place to fully immerse in the natural scenery of the South-Central Coast. This sand dune is known as the arena of the Mui Dinh - Ninh Thuan off-road car and motorbike race, held in March and June every year.
Almost every variety of Ninh Thuan’s diverse terrain can be found in Tanyoli. Along the “zodiac” axis, from here, stretching towards the sea, the natural scenery of Tanyoli includes rocky mountains, steppes, sand hills, and Son Hai beach. People refer to the sea here as the “hidden sea,” because on the way through the sub-desert of Mui Dinh on an off-road vehicle, after basking in the sandy breezes, the blue beach will suddenly appear before your eyes. On this journey, you will discover a fascinating part of life in the sub-desert of Mui Dinh when you encounter the Quan Am Basin exposed in the middle of parched sandy hills. If you're lucky enough, you can also catch a glimpse of a seagull’s nest in the sand.
There are countless interesting things in Tanyoli, and you only need to experience a few to marvel at this area. First, take a moment to enjoy the fresh air. Trust me, the natural environment here can melt away your stress. Then, try a few thrilling activities. No need to travel to the far off land of Mongolia, you can experience nomadic life right in the Ninh Thuan desert by sleeping in a yurt in the middle of the prairie, riding horses and practicing archery to suddenly feel like Guo Jing, the princess Huazheng in the wuxia novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong. Ms. Xuka, a Cham employee of Tanyoli, let us know that two foals had been born here, named Sunny and Luna. There are also countless sheep born here, making it impossible to name them all. Xuka is a saleswoman, but in the evening, she transforms into a Cham dancer, serving tourists in the cultural program by the campfire and Mongolian tents.
No need to travel up to the far off land of Mongolia, you can experience nomadic life right in the Ninh Thuan desert by sleeping in a yurt in the middle of the prairie, riding horses and practicing archery to suddenly feel like Guo Jing, the princess Huazheng in the wuxia novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong.
Explore Cham cultural heritage
In addition to the ancient towers, the important cultural site of the Cham people in Ninh Thuan definitely includes the My Nghiep brocade weaving village and Bau Truc pottery village. The My Nghiep handicraft village (over 1000 years old) and Bau Truc pottery village (nearly 800 years old) are also two traditional handicraft villages ranked among the oldest in Southeast Asia. These two villages are only 1 km apart, located across both sides of National Road 1A, about 10 km south of Phan Rang - Thap Cham city center.
The unique feature of Bau Truc pottery is that here, people do not use a pottery wheel, but primarily use their hands to caress, squeeze, and the potters have to physically rotate the pieces to form their pottery. Each stage is done entirely with manual methods. The pottery is not baked in a furnace, but is exposed openly with straw and firewood. There are hundreds of unique ceramic products here; each are one of a kind and considered to be exclusive. At the pottery exhibition center in Bau Truc, you can meet the artisans, some of whom are 70 years old, and watch them carefully craft each piece, executing their delicate movements for a truly interesting experience.
At the brocade weaving village of Cham My Nghiep, I met some acquaintances. Many years ago, they were heads of household production, now they focus on craft villages, both performing weaving and producing products for tourists. When you leave here, don’t forget to buy a few souvenirs, like scarves, purses or wristbands...
Visit the Ba Moi “Grape Kingdom”
Regarding the characteristics of fruit trees, if Binh Thuan has dragon fruit, Ninh Thuan has grapes, creating the famous “Ninh Thuan grape” brand. One of the contributors of Ninh Thuan grapes is Uncle Ba Moi, the owner of the vineyard of the same name in Hiep Hoa village, Phuoc Thuan Commune, Ninh Phuoc District. Uncle Ba is over 70 years old and is a farmer with 40 years of experience in growing and producing grape products.
The garden has 1 ha of fresh grapes and 1.5 ha of wine grapes. When seeing three varieties of white, red and black grapes in the garden in person, and hearing this old farmer speak, many visitors become very excited. In particular, high-quality grapes are used to produce the famous Cabernet Sauvignon of France. Ba Moi Vineyard has many products made from grapes that make perfect gifts such as jam, raisins, grape syrup, sweet wine, red and white wine...
Saigon – Ninh Chu Resort
Saigon – Ninh Chu Resort is a 4-star standard resort, belonging to the Saigon Tourism Corporation system (Saigontourist Group), located on Ninh Chu Beach, one of the most remarkable beaches in Vietnam. This is our stopping place on our journey to discover the land of grapes in Ninh Thuan.
About 6 km from Phan Thiet - Thap Cham city center and 50 km from Cam Ranh airport, Saigon - Ninh Chu resort has 114 rooms with elegant designs, fully equipped, and features glass surfaces overlooking the ocean, allowing guests to fully admire the cool blue sea and enjoy this tranquil space. In particular, the hotel has a long beach with gentle sands, perfect for beach sports.
The cuisine here is quite attractive, with famous regional specialties and fresh seafood served at Seaview, Nha Mat, and Ocean restaurants and outdoor areas. This venue is also the first choice in Ninh Thuan for conferences, seminars and product launching events, as it features a diverse system of meeting rooms, modern equipment and professional service.
-- Sai Gon – Ninh Chu Resort Address: 19 An Duong Vuong, Khanh Hai Town, Ninh Hai District, Ninh Thuan Province - Tel: 0259. 3876,010 - Website: www.saigonninhchuhotel.com.vn.
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