A group of foreigners from Hanoi visit Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, November 28, 2021. Photo courtesy of Lux Group
With Hanoi and other northern localities easing Covid travel restrictions, many Hanoians flocked to camping sites in suburban areas or luxury resorts and even cruise ships for their weekend retreat.
Huong Giang, a resident of Ha Dong District, chose the Ba Vi National Park, about 60 km west of Hanoi's center, to go camping with her family and enjoy the blooming wild sunflower season.
Around 10 a.m. as they approached their destination, the road leading to the national park was jammed with vehicles moving slowly because many cars stopped along the road to take pictures of the wild sunflowers.
Giang said there was a large crowd of campers in the national park on Sunday, with many not bothering to wear face masks.
A representative of the Center for Environmental Education and Service of Ba Vi National Park said that since the beginning of November, it has welcomed more than 25,000 visitors, mainly on weekends.
During this year's wildflower season, the number of visitors to the national park was still much less than the same period in 2020 (65,000) and in 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, when the park welcomed 80,000 visitors.
The management board of the park has mobilized forces to manage traffic and remind visitors to comply with pandemic prevention measures. Before entering the park, visitors are required to make medical declarations and maintain distances between groups. Visitors from outside Hanoi need to furnish a negative result for Covid done within three days before arrival.
The Ba Vi National Park is crowded with campers on November 28, 2021. Photo courtesy by Huong Giang
Other camping sites along the Red River and in suburban areas also welcomed large crowds of Hanoians last week.
Meanwhile, resorts in northern provinces and cruise ships in Ha Long Bay, a world heritage site, reported that they were fully booked for weekends, mostly by Hanoians.
Pham Ha, chairman of Hanoi-based tour operator Lux Group, said after Quang Ninh authorities allowed in tourists from medium risk areas, or yellow zones, many Hanoians have booked cruise tour packages in Ha Long.
On Sunday, a group of 30 foreigners from Hanoi enjoyed a cruise tour on the five-star Emperor Legacy Ha Long ship to explore the beauty of Ha Long Bay with its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone pillars topped by rainforests.
Ha said a cruise tour on Ha Long Bay that is scheduled to depart on December 4 was fully booked.
Quang Ninh Province, famous for high-end resorts and luxury cruise ships, reopened domestic tourism from Nov. 1 and welcomed fully vaccinated tourists from areas with low and medium Covid risk.
A representative of the Avana Retreat in Hoa Binh’s Mai Chau District, famed for is terraced rice fields, said all of its rooms were fully booked on weekends from now until the New Year holiday.
The resort’s guests are mainly from Hanoi who usually stay for two nights. Some families have booked longer stays of up to a week, the rep said.
Nguyen Duc Viet, CEO of travel agency WE Travel, said other popular resorts near Hanoi, like the Serena Resort Kim Boi, Mai Chau Ecolodge, Bakhan Resort Mai Chau in Hoa Binh and Melia Ba Vi and Tomodachi Jackfruit Village on the outskirts of Hanoi have been always full on weekends.
However, Hanoi has been witnessing a rise in daily infections over the past few days. During the fourth coronavirus wave since late April, the capital city has recorded over 10,000 infections.