Van Long is renowned for a legendary land, a breath-taking tourist destination as well as the largest wetland nature reserve in Northern Delta. Van Long with a total area of 3,000 hectares is situated on the boundaries of seven communes of Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province.
Van Long’s forests possess 457 species of higher plants, especially eight of which were listed in Vietnam Red Book of endangered fauna. In addition, there are about 39 flora species and 12 species of rare animals such as delacour’s langurs (which occupies the largest number in Vietnam), asiatic black bear, serow, loris, red-faced monkey and so on. Another noticeable thing is that Van Long wetland also has belostomatidae species, a rare insect species which was added to Vietnam Red Book.
Van Long is famous for not only the nature reserve of wetland but also its spectacular scenery together with typical cultural relics.
Standing on the dike, visitors will see water surface as a spacious space. Magnificent chain of mountains creates imposing and seducing images of natural sightseeing that won’t disappoint any tourists. With the vast of water and its serene surface, Van Long landscape definitely provides travelers with the picture of peaceful countryside which is absolutely suitable for those desire to escape from the fast pace of life in big cities.
Just by taking boats, tourists now have opportunities to enjoy beautiful landscape of Van Long. There are many impressive mountains such as Nghien mountain, Hom Sach mountain, Meo Cao (Cat Scratch Mountain), Co Tien, Voi Dung, Canh Cong and Mo Coi Mountain. Furthermore, there is a mountain that looks like a raspberry symbolizing for a prosperous life. Each mountain is a fascinating legend.
Van Long has 32 fanciful caves which are valuable for tourism development like Ca cave (Fish cave), Bong Cave (Shadow cave), Rua cave (Turtle cave) and Chanh cave. Each cave has different unique beauty, but the most beautiful one is Ca Cave (Fish cave) at the foothills of Hoang Quyen Mountain. There are various types of fish such as catfish, tilapia or snakehead. Legend has it said that someone had caught a 45 kilos of snakehead, which was the reason for calling the cave as “Fish cave”. The cave with 250 meters in length, 8 meters in height and 10 meters in width has the structure of floating, semi-submersion. Its ceiling consists of high arches spreading pendulously many sparkling stalactites with unique shape, and they look like the image of animals in the water and in the woods. It is really hard for people to sculpt those shapes.
Tourists can get to Kem Cham by boat, and then visit Mau temple (Mother temple) that worships the mother of four Generals Hong Nuong at the foot of Meo Cao mountain or Cat Scratch mountain ( its cliffs with traces of protrusions extending from the top to the bottom as scratching, so it was called Cat Scratch mountain).
According to legend, under the Eastern Han domination of Vietnam, there was a woman whose name was Mai, also known as the Great. When she was 18 year-old, her parents died and she had to live on her own by collecting firewood. One day in the summer, when going past Cat Scratch Mountain to fetch firewood, she suddenly heard a tiger roaring, and then saw it jumping from the North toward her. She was terrified and unconscious. After Mai woke up, the tiger had disappeared, she only smelt aroma around this area. From that moment, she was pregnant for more than a year and gave birth to four daughters on October 15th in Nham Ngo. Feeling it as a monstrous story, the Great decided to bring them into the mountain, and committed suicide. Black Tiger hugged her body and buried on the mountain. Her four children were raised by the stigma and juice by the tiger. Four years later, the Black Tiger brought four girls to Dinh Cong’s house to raise them and named them as Hong.
When growing up, they were beautiful as well as healthy. By the year of thirty-four-year-old, To Dinh, a Chinese invader, assumed power in Giao Chi and carried out cruel policies. In that situation, Hong recruited troops against Chinese invaders and was ordained as a General. They decided to return their village and built a temple to commemorate their mother at the foot of Cat Scratch. After all, the four Generals deceased on the Peak of Ba Chon Mountain which is also the place worships the four Generals.
Van Long landscape is not only one of the most must-see ecotourism destinations but also a place for domestic together with foreign scientists as well as students to research, study and learn about this beautiful wetland of Vietnam.