About a 2-hour drive from Hanoi, Yen Bai province is located in the central area of the Northern Mountains with rich natural scenery, friendly people, and a unique culture featuring 30 ethnic minorities. However, these factors have still not been attractive enough for the local tourism industry there to compete with other destinations in the northwest region, such as Lao Cai, Son La, Hoa Binh, and Lai Chau.
|Tourism transformation taking over-illustration photo, Source: tule.yenbai |
Before the pandemic emerged, most tourists who knew of Yen Bai could only mention Mu Cang Chai and Thac Ba Lake, with their wild beauty, but the quality of service was deemed as poor, and the activities blasted as monotonous and not attractive enough to keep visitors for more than a day or two.
Now, however, Yen Bai is emerging as a new rendezvous every weekend, and a place where domestic tourists often return so they can experience peaceful nature. The destination is even gradually asserting its position on the map as the Dalat of the north.
This change can be traced back to the opening of Le Champ Tu Le Resort Hot Spring & Spa. Located in the middle of the rich Tu Le Valley of Nghia Lo town, with mountains on one side and fields on the other, Le Champ is full of the typical beauty of indigenous people with stylish stilt houses from the Thai ethnic group.
This is a project that originated from the idea of local investor Dao Xuan Thinh, general director of Thinh Dat JSC, and then continued to be developed by his eldest son, Dao Duc Long. Long studied in Australia and majored in finance; after graduation, he returned to Yen Bai to manage the family company. “My father always dreamt of creating a project that left a mark on the land of Tu Le, where my family has been attached for a long time. That dream became the motivation for him to put all his effort into building Le Champ Resort,” Long said.
Le Champ started out as a resort on stilts to serve the needs of a small group of tourists but has since expanded into a resort complex with nearly 100 4-star rooms, with the total investment reaching over VND150 billion ($6.5 million).
The value of the project lies not only in the landscape or architecture but also in job opportunities for the local people, as well as paving the way for other investors to explore Yen Bai’s land.
“It is something to be proud of, turning the grass-covered hills into a space like this, but we are even more proud that the resort has created jobs for people. More than 100 of our employees are local ethnic people, and their average salary is over VND5 million ($215) per month,” Long added.
This resort is becoming more and more attractive thanks to new tourism products. Long also built Aeris Hills, an adventure game park. The amusement park is located in the middle of the pine forest with the longest zipline in Vietnam, connecting the two districts of Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai. From the end of August, visitors to Le Champ continue to have a new experience with music nights held on weekends, performed by accomplished singers in Vietnam.
After Le Champ and a push from the local investor Thinh Dat JSC, Yen Bai’s tourism has begun to change despite the impact of the pandemic. The number of domestic visitors in 2021 reached 794,000, nearly 100,000 more than the number of tourists who visited in 2019. Large corporations in hotels and real estate in Vietnam such as TNR Holdings Vietnam, Vingroup, and Alphanam have since been looking for investment opportunities.
The story of Yen Bai is similar to the story of Sapa in Lao Cai province nearly a decade ago. The appearance of grand projects by the likes of Sun Group has, in recent years, changed the appearance of Sapa’s tourism industry significantly.
Before 2015, the mountain town only welcomed a few hundred thousand visitors a year, but when the Fansipan cable car was inaugurated, visitors to Sapa for the first time exceeded one million in that first year.
Since then, Sapa has had a makeover with a series of international standard resorts popping up from Wink Hotels, Hotel De La Couple, Mgallery Sapa, and Muong Thanh, as well as a series of cultural events, tourism, and sporting attractions.
In the central region, Danang, which was once considered a transit station with small houses along the Han River, has also changed dramatically since the presence of investors was felt. Danang has now become a world-famous destination with an international fireworks festival and a chain of leading luxury hotels and resorts, including InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.
In addition, it hosts the iconic Golden Bridge and the Sun World Ba Na Hills theme park. In the first seven months of this year, the total number of tourists staying in Danang reached more than 1.88 million, up 83 per cent over the same period last year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Vietnam’s tourism over the past decade has been witnessing breakthroughs in areas such as Con Dao, Phu Quoc, Quang Ninh, Binh Thuan, Quy Nhon, and Phu Yen.
To promote new destinations and high-end, green hotels and resorts to meet the increasingly demands on wellness and rejuvenation, VIR is hosting a talk show titled Emerging Hotspots for Eco-luxury & Experienced Tourism.
Time: August 25, 2022, 2.30-3.30pm
The programme will be live-streamed on VIR’s website,
Facebook page, and YouTube channel, including on vir.com.vn, baodautu.vn, and tinnhanhchungkhoan.vn.
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