Located between Hue and Danang, Lang Co is to be found along the Vietnam Heritage Road. The Imperial City of Hue is to the north while Hoi An Ancient Town and My Son Sanctuaries lie to the south. Lang Co is a heaven on earth, where you’ll discover waterfalls hidden deep inside tropical rainforests, turquoise-coloured lagoons gleaming like gems … and beaches with sand so soft it melts between the toes.
❶ Chasing the Sunrise at Canh Duong Beach
Close to Chan May mountain and Laguna Lăng Cô’s integrated resort, Canh Duong Beach is acclaimed as ‘Hue’s ‘most beautiful beach’ and one of Vietnam’s most iconic beaches. Bent in the shape of an arc, this powdery white-sand beach stretches for eight kilometres and is especially charming during sunrise and sunset.
What could be more alluring than the moment the sun rises slowly over the horizon, revealing the miraculous beauty that nature provides? Simply soak in the atmosphere as you sip a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the pleasure of doing nothing!
The beach becomes more crowded in the evening as families and friends gather for fresh seafood barbecues, featuring shrimps, lobsters and a variety of fish.
For those who love to sleep on the beach under the starry night skies, A-frame cabins and family cabanas are available. Sweet dreams!
❷ Fishing at Lap An Lagoon
Stretching from Phu Gia pass to the estuary, it’s a 15-minute trip to Lap An Lagoon from Lang Co Bay. More than 100 years ago, the lagoon was the favourite ‘getaway’ of King Khai Dinh and King Bao Dai during their summer visits to Lang Co. To this day, stories live on about Royal family members fishing there and drinking water only from the Royal well.
Surrounded by the majestic Bach Ma mount, Lap An Lagoon is the ideal destination if you’re seeking relaxing scenery where the sea and mountain meet and where you can glimpse sea creatures through clear brackish waters.
Come here when the fog is lingering on the water surface. It’s like being part of a surreal ink wash painting. As the tide ebbs in the evening, join the villagers in collecting oysters and sea cucumber, which Mother Nature has generously given to the land. You need only to taste the oysters with sweet and sour sauce or oyster noodles to understand why locals call them ‘Jewel of Heaven’.
❸ Spotting the Waterfall in Bach Ma Mount
Bach Ma Mountain was first noticed by the French engineer Girard who built an entertainment hill station here in the early 1930s. This included 139 villas and hotels for Royal holiday-makers and high-ranking members of Hue’s colonial administration. The land was abandoned during the conflicts of the 1950s and 1960s. However, when independence was established in Vietnam in 1986, Bach Ma National Park was identified as a popular summer retreat for both local and international travellers.
Trekking on the mountain and exploring different waterfalls is an experience to savour. Visitors to Bach Ma can follow exciting trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls such as Do Quyen, where rhododendron flowers grow and bloom in summer; Tri Sao with mossy stones where you can feel fresh falling mist on your face; or Ngu Ho where you can go for a swim in the five lakes with their refreshingly clear blue water.
❹ Contemplating Lang Co Bay from the Top of Hai Van Pass
Hai Van Pass has been described as a giant dragon lying on the border between Hue and Da Nang, stretching from the Truong Son range to the sea. As the name suggests, the ‘Sea Cloud’ has its peak in the clouds and its feet next to the ocean. Driving along Hai Van Pass, don’t be surprised if you’re struck by a strange delight of isolation.
If the weather is favourable, as you pass through the clouds you’ll have a chance to contemplate the breathtaking views of Lang Co Bay – named one of the world’s 30 most beautiful bays in a 2009 poll. The bay was first explored by King Khai Dinh and became a frequent summer destination for the Royal family.
If you want to turn back time, ride on a local train. Enjoy the wooden seats and be wowed by the views from the open windows as the railway hugs the coastline.
❺ Visiting Imperial Khai Dinh Mausoleum
Officially named Ung Lang, the Mausoleum of Khai Dinh – the 12th King of the Nguyen Dynasty (1885-1925) – is located on a steep hill in Chau Chu mountain, Huong Thuy town, outside the capital city of Hue.
Built from 1920 to 1931, the tomb is an elaborate blend of Western and Eastern architecture. While smaller in size than the tombs of his predecessors, the Khai Dinh Mausoleum is recognised as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO, thanks to its intricate artworks, notably the dragon painting on the ceilings, and the objects made of ceramics and porcelain.
It is said that the last ruling dynasty of Vietnam revived interest in ceramics and porcelain, as evidenced on the top floor at Thien Dinh Palace.
Largely due to the meticulous details in design and the time it took people to travel to and from the site with the materials, everything here took 11 years to complete.
❻ Taking a Boating Stroll Through Laguna Lăng Cô Canal
This specially-designed boat tour takes you along a three-kilometre canal where you’ll have ample photo opportunities as you get to see the best parts of Laguna Lăng Cô’s international integrated resort.
For couples on a romantic getaway and those inspired by Royal architecture and Vietnamese culture, the Laguna Lăng Cô canal takes you on an uplifting journey through local features which are represented inside the resort, from the old grey cement wall to the colourful lanterns and the antique wooden ‘Thanh Toan Bridge’ that crosses the irrigation canal and extends from the Angsana to Banyan Tree Lăng Cô Resort and the golf course.
You’ll learn about Laguna Golf Lăng Cô, which is integrated with mountains and sea on a sandy strip of dune as well as rice paddies that are dedicated to supporting the local community.
❼ Bask in the Sunset at Tam Giang Lagoon
After a long day wandering around and exploring, it’s time to wind down and contemplate the most beautiful moments on Tam Giang Lagoon as the fishing boats return home.
At 24 kilometers in length, Tam Giang Lagoon is one of the largest lagoons in the world, made up of three big rivers – O Lau, Huong and Bo. The lagoon offers a spectacular view as the sun breaks over the horizon and the sky turns a shade of violet. At sunset, you can jump onto a fishing boat and join locals as they collect fish and shrimps from traps offshore. Alternatively, head for the shallow water from where you can pick up oysters and clams.
Tam Giang Lagoon is spoilt with its bio-diversity and marine products. If you have a craving for squid, clam, crab or shrimp, head to the local markets where an abundance of fish are available at wholesale prices. Bon apetit!
❽ Exploring the Incense-Making Village
Heading from Lang Co to Tu Duc Tomb, you’ll pass by a small village in which every house makes and sells incense that are bunched together as stalks according to colours. For centuries, families in this village have been making incense sticks which carry many different aromas, including the popular agarwood, cinnamon and pine.
The sticks are made from bamboo and dyed red, yellow, green, purple as Xuan Thuy villagers believe incense should be both fragrant and beautiful.
You can experience making the incense by hand or by machine and have a conversation with locals who will regale you with stories about the history and tradition of incense and advise you the best angles for photographs. Be sure also bring back with you a selection of incense from Xuan Thuy. It’s a wonderful gift, guaranteed to stir your senses and bring back fond memories of Laguna Lăng Cô once you’re back home.