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ART SCENES | EXHIBITIONS | VN CULTURE | ART ASSOCIATIONS | ETHNIC MINORITIES

A return to Viet Nam's roots (February 08, 2005)


Drag racing: Dragon boat racing attracts dozens of young men to compete for the top prize in honour of the anniversary of King Hung’s death. He ruled ancient Viet Nam more than 2,000 years ago in what is today Phu Tho Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
Greenery: Lao Cai also has lush plants, flowers and rice paddies that turn the landscape a brilliant emerald. — Photo Truong Vi
Motherland: The temple of Lady Au Co, a legendary figure believed to be the birth mother of the Viet clan. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Truong
Utterly tranquil: Viet Nam’s largest artificial lake Thac Ba contains more than 1,300 islands and is home to about 10,000 people, who live in the forests around it. Thac Ba is one of the many spots in Yen Bai Province local authorities hope to highlight. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Na
How to get there:

Easy access is available daily by car or train.

Passenger cars depart from My Dinh Station near My Dinh National Stadium in Ha Noi’s outskirt district of Tu Liem.

Trains leave from Tran Quy Cap Railway Station in downtown Ha Noi.
Three northern provinces have banded together for a tourism promotion programme that is sure to make these gorgeous, yet unknown places the new hot spots for international and domestic travellers. Thanh Ha reports.

As Viet Nam prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the republic, tourism strategists want to tap the historical potential of the northern revolutionary bases used during the struggle for independence and get these unknown, yet spectacular destinations on the country’s tourist maps.

To this end, the three north-western regions of Yen Bai, Lao Cai and Phu Tho will be featured in a tourism promotion campaign called Pilgrimage to the Roots, aimed at introducing the historic areas to domestic and foreign tourists in Viet Nam.

Nguyen Van Ngoc, deputy chairman of the Yen Bai Provincial People’s Committee, said the programme, which includes TV announcements and other publicity, would make its debut next month on Viet Nam Television.

"The programme will provide many opportunities for cultural exchange between these areas and the rest of the country. We hope to promote further investment and stimulate economic development to create a breakthrough for regional tourism," said Ngoc.

Ngoc, the head co-ordinator between the provinces, said the programme also aimed to attract one million local and foreign travellers to the region, with an estimated turnover of VND300 billion (US$19 million).

"The other aim is to get the attractive tourism sites onto local and foreign travel companies’ lists, which is an important step in promoting tourism," he added.

The co-operative programme will focus on creating unique tourism destinations, based on the natural and cultural draws of these locations, the vice chairman said. To succeed, the programme must reach the largest audience possible.

According to the group’s agreement, Yen Bai, Lao Cai and Phu Tho will take turns hosting televised announcement ceremonies for various regional festivals.

Magical Yen Bai

For example, the festival at Thac Ba Temple (Mother Temple) in Yen Binh District, Yen Bai Province will be featured this month. The temple, which is built into Hoang Thi Mountain and faces the Chay River, is where the Mother Goddess and other deities are worshipped. It relates to a legend that says Ngoc Hoa Princess, daughter of the 18th King Hung, worshipped in the Thac Ba Temple.

The festival includes a feast to celebrate the Mother Goddess (January 8-9); and another party is held on October 10.

At Thac Ba Lake, the biggest man-made lake in Viet Nam, tourists can enjoy the beauty of the Mother Temple, while relaxing in nature. They will also have a chance to learn about the local traditions and visit the villages of the Dao, Tay and Cao Lan ethnic minority groups.

The Dao’s also have traditional festivals of their own, which celebrate the new rice crop with dances and feature speciality fish dishes, such as ven (bream), lang (hemibagrus), qua (snake-head), bong tuong (goby) and thieu bac (culteralburnus). Visitors can also sample Dai Minh sweet mandarins and pommelos and the golden rice in Muong Lo, the second rice granary in Viet Nam’s western region.

Nearby Hum Cave is where traces of 100,000 year-old humans and thousands of fossils from 30 animal species were found. Tourists can climb 100-year old tea trees to pluck the young buds with young Mong girls or walk through pomu forests to the Tap Lang Waterfall.

Other festivals will be held at Cuong Temple in Van Yen District, Dai Cai Temple in Luc Yen District and Tuan Quan Temple in Yen Bai Town, in addition to a number of seminars, trade fairs, and cultural weeks.

The cradle of Phu Tho

Linking the mountainous north-western provinces with the capital city and the Red River Delta, Phu Tho and its Viet Tri city are only 70km north of Ha Noi. The area sits in the triangle created by the Red, Da, and Lo rivers and is bordered by the Ba Vi and Tam Dao mountains, where the ancient Viet people lived under the Hung Kings of Van Lang.

Phu Tho’s most attractive sites include Ao Gioi (Pond of God) and Suoi Tien (Fairy Stream), which are punctuated by many hills and mountains, creating 99 small waterfalls and picturesque scenery.

Travellers can also visit the Xuan Son National Natural Park in Thanh Son District, with 15,000ha of forest rich in flora and fauna, and explore the 14 beautiful caves nearby.

Thanh Thuy District is known for its hot mineral springs, which have an average temperature of 44oc and are said to invigorate the human body.

Phu Tho also contains more than 1,370 pagodas, temples, tombs and communal houses, such as King Hung Temple, Mau Au Co Temple, Phu Thanh and Bong Lai pagodas and Hung Lo and Dao Xa communal houses. On a visit to the province, travellers can enjoy artefacts of the ancient Viet people from the stone and bronze ages, which were found in Phung Nguyen, Son Vi, Go Mung and Lang Ca.

Seductive Lao Cai

Bordering China’s Yunnan Province, Lao Cai boasts 27 different ethnic groups. It is likely to become a gateway to tourism, as travellers from China and other ASEAN countries can enter and leave via the province.

Local new year festivals called roong poc celebrate the return to harvest with the xoe dance, and there is a spring festival at Thuong and Bao Ha temples in Lao Cai Town. Tourists can also visit several caves in Muong Vi, Sa Pa’s ancient stone area, and the palace of Meo King Hoang A Tuong on the Bac Ha plain.

Lao Cai already has a variety of tourism packages that include hiking, eco-tourism, mountain climbing, relaxation, sports and historical discovery. Sa Pa, the most popular destination in Lao Cai, features the 3,143m Phanxipang Mountain, and is visited year round by tourists for its cool weather and 700 species of flora and fauna.

Bac waterfall, May Bridge, the orchid garden, Ham Rong Mountain, Ta Phin brocade village, and the Cat Cat cultural preserve village are also quite popular.

Bac Ha, called the white plain because of the spring plum and apricot flowers, has a busy market day that gathers the ethnic minorities from all over the province. Young men and women also go to the market to look for future spouses.

After the morning market, guests can enjoy the water falls and mountains linked to the legendary Tien Cave. Going upstream to Bat Xat, tourists can play in Muong Hum Stream and visit Muong Vi Cave and learn the musical tradition of the local people, which feature the khen (pan-pipe) dance and sao (flute). — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency

     

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