From Singapore To Hainan

                                                                                                                      By Jee Say Hai – May 2012

Travel route at a glance
  • From Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City by air; flight time: 2 hours 5 minutes.
  • From HCMC airport to city by airport bus: travel time: 25 minutes; fare: 5,000 Dong.
  • From HCMC to Hanoi by air; flight time: 2 hours 10 minutes.
  • 2-days-1-night Halong Bay tour: USD105.
  • From jetty to Vietnam-China border (Dongxing) by bus; traveling time: 3 hours 30 minutes; fare: 80,000 D.
  • From border to Beihai (Guangxi) by bus; travel time: 3 hours; fare 62 Yuan
  • From Beihai to Haikou (Hainan) by 6pm ship with berth; ETA 5am next day; fare: 200 Yuan.
  • From Haikou to Singapore by air; flight time: 3 hours 30 minutes; fare: 648 Yuan.

(click to enlarge map)



In August 1858, the French attacked and captured Da Nang, a seaport north of Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam.  In February the following year the French advanced southward and captured Saigon (the present Ho Chi Minh City).  The French then moved northward and colonized the whole Vietnam in the 1880s.

During the Second World War the Japanese invaded Vietnam and the French were forced out.  The Vietnamese “August Revolution” Forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, gained control of Hanoi, followed by Saigon and other strategic cities after the Japanese surrendered on 13 August 1945.  Tension was up and war between the French and Vietnamese Forces was unavoidable.  Between March and May 1954 the French and the Vietnamese engaged in a fierce war in Dien Bien Phu in the north west of Hanoi.  

The war (The First Indochina War) ended shortly after the Battle Of Dien Bien Phu with the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords on 20 July 1954.  Under the Accords France agreed to withdraw its forces from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  Vietnam was temporarily divided into North Vietnam and South Vietnam at the 17th parallel, about 100 km from Hue. 

Neither the U.S. nor South Vietnam signed the Accords.  This marked the beginning of a serious involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam and the ensuing Vietnam War or The Second Indochina War (The Vietnamese call “American War”).  The Geneva Accords proposed general election by July 1956 to create a unified Vietnamese state was never held.

The U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s.  Besides Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed too.  The War reached its peak in 1968.  Despite the Paris Peace Accords signed by all parties in January 1973, fighting continued.  The capture of Saigon by the Vietnam Army in April 1975 marked the end of the War.  North Vietnam and South Vietnam were unified July 1976.


In 1986 the government initiated a series of economic reforms, which see Vietnam moves towards integration of the world economy.  Under the reforms, private ownership of enterprises in industries, commerce and agriculture was permitted and encouraged.  Some sectors of its economy have been open to international markets.  As a result of several land reforms it has become one of the major exporter of agricultural products such as cashew nuts, black pepper and rice. Its manufacturing, information technology and high-tech industries now form a large and fast-growing economy.  It is the third largest petroleum production in Southeast Asia.  

It has established diplomatic relations with many countries.  Its economic growth is among the highest in the world since 2000.  It joined the World Trade Organization in 2007.

Vietnam is currently developing a space program and plans to construct the Vietnam Space Centre by 2018.  The first Vietnamese satellite was launched on 18 April 2008.  The Satellite provides applied services of radio, television and telephone transmission, internet, weather forecasts and national security.  It is the 6th ASEAN and the 93rd country in the world to launch a satellite.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam.  It was an important sea port in the 17th century.  It was the capital of the French colony of Cochin-china (1862 – 1954) and later the capital of South Vietnam (1955 – 1975).  The People’s Army of Vietnam and National Liberation Front captured Saigon on 30 April 1975.  The Fall of Saigon (or Liberation of Saigon) marked the end of the Vietnam War.
This is Ho Chi Minh City landmark: the Ben Thanh Market. The Market was first constructed in 1911.  The present structure was restored in 1985. The Market offers various items from domestic household needs to tourist carry-away. A walking distance away from this Market is the city bus station where the airport bus also passes by. There are a number of attractions nearly, such as Independence Palace/ Reunification Palace (0.7 km), Art Museum (0.3 km), Revolutionary Museum/Ho Chi Minh City Museum (0.6 km), Water Puppet Theatre (1.1 km), War Remnants Museum (1.3 km). [Bracket denotes walking distance from the Market]

This is the view from the War Remnants Museum entrance; the background is the hub of commercial centre. The museum displays exhibits relating to the Vietnam War.  It was first called “The House for displaying war crimes of American imperialism and the Puppet government” when it was opened in 1975; later it was called “Museum of American War Crimes”; then as “War Crime Museum”. Its current name follows the normalization of relation with the U.S. in the 1990s. In display are military equipment, helicopter, fighter, bomb, tank, bomber and unexploded ordnance and photographs covering the effects of Agent Orange and other toxic chemical sprays and atrocities of war such as the My Lai Massacre.


(Left photo) Toxic chemical sprayed over Vietnam during the Vietnam War amounted to 100 million litres; this amount can fill up to 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.  Scientists agree that dioxin is the most harmful and toxic chemical ever discovered by mankind to date.  Only as little as 85 gm of dioxin could kill a whole city with a population of 8 million. That being so the 170 kg of dioxin used on Vietnam could kill 16,000 million people, more than today’s world population of 7,000 million!
<< source: as displayed in War Remnants Museum
(click to enlarge photo)


Comparative figures about 3 wars in which the U.S. participated 美国参与三次战争的一些数字比较:
 World War II 二战The Korea War   韩战The Vietnam War  越战
Length of War
3 years 8 months
3 years 1 month
17 years 2 month
Military personnel serving on active duty 参战军人人数16,112,5665,720,0008,744,000
Peak troop strength
6.1953   1953年6月
4.1969   1969年4月
Tonnage of bombs and artillery shells
5,000,000 ton (吨)2,600,000 ton (吨)14,300,000 ton (吨)
Cost of war
US$ 341 billionsUS$ 54 billionsUS$ 676 billions
Casualties – killed
Casualties – wounded
Source: original data in English is taken from display in War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with translation in Chinese by the writer. 以上英文资料采自越南胡志明市战争博物馆,中文由作者翻译。


From Left:
  1. The gate of the Independence Palace (Reunification Palace) as seen on 8 May 2012
  2. A tank from the Liberation Army smashed the gate of Independence Palace on 30 April 1975
  3. The compound as seen from the top floor of the Independence Palace on 8 May 2012
  4. Tanks from the Liberation Army advanced in convoy towards Independence Palace on 30 April 1975


Cu Chi Tunnels are part of a large network of underground tunnels located in Cu Chi District about 75 km north west of Ho Chi Minh City.  They were the bases of operation for the Viet Cong (National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam) guerrillas during the 1960 – 1975 period. They also serve as food, weapon supply and communication routes; there were also hospital facilities to tend to the wounded and the sick, meeting room to discuss operation strategy, kitchen for the preparation of food for the residents living in the tunnels.

Life in the tunnels was not simple or easy.  Food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, spiders, scorpions and snakes.  Sickness especially due to malaria was rampant.

The unique underground architectural system, with access to the Saigon River, has numerous floors, spreading like cobweb over 200 km in length. The tunnels help to achieve ultimate military success in the war with the Americans.  

The complex of tunnels has been turned into a war memorial park.  Tourists were briefed on the various traps (such as tiger trap, booby trap with bamboo spikes, rotary trap) primitive as they may see, but very effective to make the enemies suffered, and at time died due to the suffering.  The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction.  Visitors are invited to crawl the tunnel. Lights have been installed and the tunnel made larger to make moving through the tunnels much easier.


Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city.  It served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954 and was the capital of North Vietnam before its reunification with South Vietnam in 1976.  The Japanese occupied the city during the Second World War from 1940 to 1945.   Hanoi is located 1,760 km north of Ho Chi Minh City.

Summers (from May to September) are hot and humid and winters are relatively cool and dry. 

The Old Quarter, near the city landmark of Hoan Kiem Lake, still preserves the original architectural buildings.  Each street had merchants specialized in a particular trade with the street names still reflecting the specialization.  A night market opens for business every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, selling variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.



Hanoi has many scenic lakes and is sometime called “city of lakes”.  The most famous lake is the Hoan Kiem Lake (还剑湖) (top left) also known as Lake of Return Sword; around the lake is the historical, cultural and commercial centre of Hanoi.
West Lake (西湖) (top right) is the largest lake in Hanoi and is a popular place for the locals and tourists alike to relax.  There are many temples and eating stall around the lake.  A better way to go round the lake is on motorcycles.

The Temple of Literature – also known as Van Mieu (文庙), is a temple dedicated to Confucius, an ancient scholar, philosopher of China. It was built in 1070 and reconstructed in subsequent dynasties.  Despite wars, the Temple has preserved ancient architectural styles of many dynasties. It was used as a place to educate bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and members of the elite. The layout of the Temple is similar to that at Qufu, Shandong, birthplace of Confucius


The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum located in the centre of Ba Dinh Square, is the place where Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.  Construction work began in September 1973.  The embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh (19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969) is preserved there. The mausoleum is closed occasionally for preservation work otherwise is open to public daily from 09:00  to 12:00.

Hanoi streets today

Marble sculpture Balancing skill Porcelain ware  Dong Xuan Market
Lacquered handicraft Colourful handmade lampshades For the fashion lots
hanoi temple entrance

(R) Hoan Kiem Lake Temple - This temple, located on the Hoan Kiem Lake, is a typical Chinese temple in Hanoi. There are many couplet [对联 pron: dui lian in Chinese] that greet visitors as they walk along and also inside  the temple building. 

(L) Museum of Ethnology - The Viet make up almost 86% of the population of Vietnam, comprising the largest of the 54 ethnic groups.  Displays include culture, musical, dresses, literature, ritual and living styles of the Viet, Muong, Yao, Tay, Nung and others.  Houses of various ethnic groups are also built for view.


Halong Bay was listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1994. The words Ha Long literally means “descending dragon” or “下龙” in Chinese-Vietnamese language.  The site, a very popular tourist destination, features thousands of limestone isles in various shapes and sizes.  The bay has an area of about 1,500 square km with about 2,000 islets.  Historical research shown the presence of pre-historical human beings

A community of about 1,600 people lives on Halong Bay.  They live on floating houses and their main economic activities iv fishing and marine aquaculture.  There are a few villages with a school for the convenience of the children of the villages.  There are two bigger islands, Tuan Chau and Cat Ba with beautiful beaches, that have permanent residents, as well as hotel facilities to cater for tourists.

Halong Bay is located east of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin and China in the north.

A school


A grocery boat

A tourist boat guide

A village of about few hundred inhabitants built on the water can be found in Halong Bay. It is a magically calm place, an escape from the hustle of Hanoi streets. The village is a true water world, rising and falling with the tides, sheltered amidst limestone towers. Water villages are settlements that are usually built on the water. Houses often float on the water or are located on stilts and rarely on small islands. This water village is becoming increasingly popular tourist destination.

Locals live mainly from the sea. Most of the rock islands in the area are not suitable for cultivation. Halong Bay is very rich in fish and seafood. In the above pictures you can see some floating houses. Locals live in these houses and their main economic activities are fishing, marine aquaculture and tourist boat guides. They sell their catches to the tourist pleasure boats or to bigger boats that bring the fresh fish to mainland markets.  There is a school that caters for the children of the locals. Grocery boats ply around the village to sell their goods.

Boating tourA tourist pleasure boatWhen light strikesOne of the 2,000 islets



Dong xng is a city in Guangxi, (China) bordering with Vietnam city of Mong Cai (芒街).  The two cities are separated by the Bei Lun River (北仑河). Tourists walk along the Friendship Bridge from one immigration post to the other. 

Dongxing commercial area is located just outside the immigration checkpoint building. Hotels are visible within sight.  If you need to continue your journey to Nanning, the capital of Guangxi or other nearby towns you may proceed to the main bus terminal by either motorcycle or the city taxi. 

Mong Cai immigration postThe boundary - Bei Lun RiverDongxing immigration post
Cross border tradingWholesales complexSupermarketResidential shop house

Friendship Garden 友谊公园


Sunshine Holiday Hotel
Tel: 0770-626 2555 / 626 3666
Fax: 0770-626 2111



Beihai is a coastal city located in the southern tip of Guangxi Province, north east of Gulf of Tonkin and about 119 nautical miles (220 km) north east of Hainan Province.  In 1984 when China decided to open her doors to the outside world, Beihai was one of the 14 coastal cities that took advantage of this policy.  In 2010 it was listed as one of the historical and cultural cities in China. It has a population of about 1.5 million (2010) and is one of the 10 biggest fishing ports in China. 

Beihai is the hub of transportation: there is an international passenger port; a railway line connecting Nanning, the capital of Guangxi; a domestic airport connecting Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Haikou and long distance coaches that ply between Nanning, Dong Xing and other cross province cities like Guangzhou (广州), Chengdu (成都), Chongqing (重庆).  The bus route also extends to Haian (海安), the town where you will take a ship to ferry you across the Straits of Qiongzhou to Haikou, the capital of Hainan Province.  Alternatively you can take a ship that will bring you direct to Haikou from Bei Hai International Passenger Port.


(Left) The main bus terminal in Beihai.  Turn left after exiting the terminal building, walks towards the main road and take bus route number 15 (fare 1.50 Yuan) which will bring you to the city centre; the journey takes about 10 minutes; go down at the Bei Bu Wan Square (北部湾广场) near the junction of Xi Chuan Road (四川路) and Bei Bu Wan East Road (北部湾东路); there are a few hotels within sight.

(Centre) Every bus station has this route sign; check your destination, where the bus stops, the first and last trip for the day to enjoy your ride.  The fare is usually between one to three Yuans, depending on the distance.

(Right) The Xi Chuan Road (四川路) runs from the Bei Bu Wan Square (北部湾广场) towards the Silver Beach direction.

Night marketFishing fleetBus TerminalView on ship to Hainan
(Left) The Beihai International Passenger Port (北海国际客运港) is located along the bus route to Silver Beach (银滩) and about 15 minutes bus ride from Bei Bu Wan Square. `

(Right) 北部湾一号 the ship (white colour) that takes you from Beihai to Haikou. The ship leaves Beihai at 6:00 pm and arrives in Haikou at 5:00 am the following day. Fare per person is 280 Yuan (2 persons/cabin), 200 Yuan (4 persons/cabin) and 180 Yuan (8 persons/cabin). Another ship also leaves at the same time from Haikou for Beihai. There is only one trip daily.

(Left) The entrance to the Beihai Silver Beach at night; there are indication of tide and wind condition for public information. 
(Right) the crowd at night, the most attractive night spot in Beihai

广安宾馆 Guang An Hotel 北海市,四川南路8号 Tel: 0779-308 0008 / 307 7088 Fax: 0779-308 0009
北海华侨宾馆 Overseas Chinese Hotel, Beihai 北海市,四川南路55号 Tel: 0779-308 1588 / 308 1589 Fax: 0779-308 1600


Haikou City 海口市


在海南思古抒怀,一定要去五公词。海口市八景之一的“圣祠叠彩”就在这里。这片园林式结构建筑群始建于明代万历年间 (1573-1619年),陆续建至本世纪初。这里奇花异木掩映楼阁,地近闹市,独有清幽。该祠是为纪念唐、宋时期贬谪到海南岛的五位著名历史人物:唐朝名相李德裕、宋朝名相李纲、李光、赵鼎、名臣得诠而建的,故名五公祠。建筑面积2800余平方米,连同园林、井泉、池塘约占地100亩。始建于明万历年间,清光绪十五年(1889年)重修,后又多次修缮,现仍是熠熠生辉。至今已有百余年。这是一幢以上等木料精心构筑的红楼,楼高十几米,分上下二层,四角攒尖式的屋顶,素瓦红掾,为海南最早的楼房,故称海南第一楼。与四周烂漫的绿叶繁枝相辉映,显得格外的庄严肃穆。


海口假日海滩 海口西海岸观还台海滩
假日海滩分为沙滩日浴区、海上运动区、海洋餐饮文化区和休闲度假区,建有音乐喷泉广场、海滨浴场、饮品中心、冲浴房、生态广场、停车场、溜冰场、水上世界、蝴蝶王国、仙人掌大观园、儿童活动中心等,还有摩托艇、帆板和冲浪等水上游乐运动以及沙滩排球、旱冰等文体活动。 建在假日海滩休闲内的"水世界"由水上表演馆、嬉水乐园、海上俱乐部组面,别具古罗马建筑风格的水上表演馆,常年邀请欧美精英表演水上芭蕾、高空跳水、陆地风舞,精湛而又惊险、刺激的娱乐表演项目,使中外游客赞不绝口。是旅游者和海口市民休闲度假的去处,也是海口市作为滨海旅游城市最具代表性的海滨旅游休闲胜地。


Haikou Geologic Park Volcanic stone culture


Volcano park


The Crater


Musical fountain in Haikou 海口骑楼小吃街外景 海口骑楼小吃街内景
博熬玉带滩  BOAO ISLE
Where the sand meets the cloud Earning a living with a turtle in hands

The Garden’ entrance



椰田古寨 entrance
At the house of Headman
A symbol of authority




金玉观世音 南海观音 南山寺
Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone, overlooking the South China Sea, is located about 32 km west of Sanya city, the second biggest city in Hainan Province.  It has an area of 50 square km including the sea area of 10 square km with beautiful sea and mountain landscape and rich historical and cultural resources.  It has several theme parks and resorts including Buddhism Park, World of Auspicious and Longevity, Statutes of Fairy Tales, hotels, vocational villas among others.
The Nanshan Buddhism Park opened its doors to the public in April 1988.  A grand ceremony was held on 24 April 2005 to mark the completion of the “South Sea Guanyin” (南海观音), which has a height of 108 meters and facing three directions.  The Guanyin is the centre of attraction for many tourists from all over the world but there are some who come here to feel for themselves the natural landscape, the peaceful environment and wander the many temple architecture inside the Zone.


天涯海角风景区(必游)出三亚市沿海滨西行26公里,到达了马岭山下,便是"天涯海角"奇景。游客至此,似乎到了天地之尽头。 古时候交通闭塞,"鸟飞尚需半年程"的琼岛,人烟稀少,荒芜凄凉,是封建王朝流放"逆...

《天涯海角》就是这么四个字吸引了来自四面八方的游客到此一游。Hundreds and thousands of tourists, local and foreign alike, flock to the beach in this southern city of Hainan, Sanya, to see for themselves the four Chinese characters, which mean “remote place”.  Historically it carries certain sentimental message.  If the Emperor disliked you and sent you to take charge of certain place in the “remote place” it meant that you were forever not within reach of the Emperor any more.



 Hainan Island (area: 34,000 square km) (population: 9.4 m (2019) (click to enlarge map)


Route: Hanoi > Halong Bay (by tour bus) > Mong Cai / Dongxing (by public bus) (click to enlarge map) 


Dongxing > Beihai (by public bus) > Haikou (by ship)  (click to enlarge map) 


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