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|Halong city's new entertainment complexes, enrich the appeal of the magnificent Halong Bay|
While international and domestic tourists have been flocking to Halong Bay to admire the heavenly and distinctive karst topography for many years now, Halong city has always lacked cultural events, modern entertainment, and attractive beaches to prolong the duration of their visits – but this is finally changing thanks to a major makeover that has transformed the city’s image.
When Halong Bay was recognised as a World Natural Heritage by the UNESCO in 1994, local imagined a bright future for their homeland’s tourism industry. Each year, the city started to see millions of tourists from all over the world, but very few actually stayed in Halong city. Both domestic and international tourists were only coming to see Halong Bay, considered to be a natural wonder of the world, a place you simply must visit.
The city of Halong was only seen as a pit-stop. Most tourists simply clambered off the bus before boarding a traditional junk and setting off across the bay for a sightseeing tour. When they returned to shore, there were not enough activities or attractions to keep people entertained for days. Besides enjoying dinner at a seafood restaurant, for more than two decades, most travellers rarely explored Halong city.
|The Queen Cable Car|
But now a number of renovation projects – developed from the investment of Sun Group – have given Halong a city-wide facelift that is transforming its image and encouraging visitors to stick around. When they first outlined their strategic vision for Halong city, one of the primary goals for Sun Group, working in collaboration with Quang Ninh authorities, was the clean-up and renewal of Bai Chay Beach. For too many years, the beach had suffered from pollution caused by industrial mining and urban expansion.
Tourists had little interest in spending time there. However, by treating wastewater, completely replacing the sand, and developing the gorgeous Bai Chay Bridge, which features colourful LED lights every night, a transformed Bai Chay Beach that now attracts visitors with its white sands and clear waters throughout the year.
|Bai Chay Bridge enlivened by colourful LED lights at night|
And this was just the beginning of Sun Group’s plan to make Halong city a more attractive tourist destination. In June 2016, Sun World Halong Complex, a world-class entertainment complex, was opened. Industry observers said that this was a huge moment for Halong, which means ‘Descending Dragon’ in Vietnamese.
You could say that Sun World Halong Complex reawakened this dragon after a long slumber. Now families and groups of friends visiting Halong can enjoy wonderful panoramic views of Halong Bay and Halong city from up on high with the Queen Cable Car and Sun Wheel on Ba Deo Hill. Furthermore, Dragon Theme Park and Typhoon Water Park also have a lot to offer guests, for example, Asia’s longest and most fascinating rollercoaster, and many more exciting games and rides.
|Sun Premier Village Resort Halong Bay invested by Sun Group|
Since the opening of Sun World Halong Complex, it’s no coincidence that hotels and resorts in the city centre are usually fully booked on holidays. If you want to stay near the Bai Chay area, you need to book your hotel at least one week in advance. Even good restaurants in the city centre are often filled to the brim during peak seasons.
A representative of Vietrantour Travel Company said, “The appearance of Sun World Halong Complex has contributed greatly to the attractiveness of Halong Bay. When Sun Group launched the Sun World Halong Complex, Quang Ninh province and Halong city witnessed a major surge in tourism.”
In 2018, Quang Ninh welcomed 12.2 million visitors, an increase of 24 per cent compared to 2017, including 5.2 million international visitors, up 22 per cent, with a large number of tourists coming to Halong. Tourism revenue reached VND24 trillion ($1.04 billion), up 28.1 per cent on-year. Meanwhile, Quang Ninh received around 7 million tourists in 2017. It expected that 2019 will see even stronger figures than 2018 as Halong city and Quang Ninh look to grow from strength to strength.
|Sun Wheel on Ba Deo Hill|
|Dragon Theme Park and Typhoon Water Park are the favourite destinations of tourists|
There’s no doubt that the development of Bai Chay Bridge, the clean up of Bai Chay Beach, and Sun World Halong Complex have energised the city centre of Halong, and there are more plans in the pipeline from Sun Group, which has strategically set out to develop a whole tourism ecosystem around the Bai Chay area. As the old saying goes, “All boats rise with the tide.”
Located right next to the Sun World Halong Complex, Sun Premier Village Resort Halong Bay offers resort villas and shophouses for visitors. At Sun Plaza Grand World – Shophouse Europe, Sun Group recreates the architectural splendour of Vienna while also serving as a centre for entertainment, culture, and art. The square was put into operation on the occasion of the 2018 Halong Carnival festival, a new cultural attraction that will be held on an annual basis, attracting visitors and entertaining residents with a special festive atmosphere with light shows, musical performances, dance, and much more at Sun Carnival Halong Square.
Sun Group has been working closely with local authorities with the aim of making Halong a "hotspot of festival tourism.” A wide range of cultural events and festivals have already been held since the beginning of 2017, including a Flower Festival, Carnaval Halong 2018, Four Seasons Festival and Sunrise Festival 2018. Many more cultural and artistic activities will take place in Sun World Halong Complex through 2019 as the aim is to make Halong an even more exciting destination all year-round.
Nguyen Van Tuan, former director general of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, admitted, “The new tourism products of Sun Group have contributed to positively changing Halong, especially around the Bai Chay area. We have not only seen an increase in the number of visitors, but also a ripple effect through the city. Hotels are often filled to capacity, and there has been an increase in the production and circulation of goods.”
|Carnival in Halong city|
Looking forward, major projects from investors will continue to help Quang Ninh and Halong city achieve fast but sustainable socioeconomic development. As Sun Group continues to develop a complete tourism ecosystem, and prepares to open a five-star resort beside Bai Chay, Halong is on its way to becoming one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations. Perhaps soon, Halong can even "take the crown" and be declared as the country’s leading destination.