An enchanting village

In backpacker circles, there is a lot of shaking of the heads.

They are sad that the historic and picturesque Mai Chau – Muong Lat – Sai Khao route is going to be closed, because work will soon start on the Trung Son Hydropower Plant, a project aided by the World Bank in Thanh Hoa Province. The route, which starts in Mai Chau District in Hoa Binh Province, goes through Thanh Hoa’s Muong Lat District and ends in Sai Khao, was used by the famous military unit Tay Tien (westwards) in 1947 when they were assigned to join hands with Laos in fighting the French colonialist forces.

We decided to revisit Sai Khao and once gain go on the historic route of Tay Tien, well-known thanks to a poem of the same name.

One of the poorest villages of Muong Lat, Sai Khao “welcomes” tourists with rough and long, sometimes seemingly endless, slopes. In fact, many bikes in our group broke down on Pu Hin Hai, the longest and highest slope. Some members who rode pillion had to get off and push their vehicles to get to the top. But when we reached the village of 390 mostly H’Mong residents, we were glad that we made the effort to make it here. Dubbed the “Da Lat town of Thanh Hoa,” Sai Khao has a cool atmosphere with air so unpolluted it seems to have a bite when you breathe. Since it is the highest point in Muong Lat, which is some 700 meters above the sea level, travelers can take in a panoramic view of high mountains and sky, as well as the H’Mong people’s green terraced fields of corn and rice. You do not need a photograph…it is a sight that will never fade from your mind. Sunrise and sunset in Sai Khao are unforgettable experiences as well. Early in the morning, after rains, clouds embrace mountain tops and everything is bathed in a golden light. Nights in Sai Khao are almost pitch dark, because there is no electricity, only lights from candles, oil lamps and stars. This also means that we get the rare chance to observe stars closely without a telescope or hindrances of high buildings.

Even though Sai Khao has almost nothing – no water supply, no telecommunications, no faved roads and not even a market, the village makes up for it with what many tourism destinations in Vietnam are losing: kind and simple-hearted people. In Sai Khao, a young lady who ran a small café gave us fresh bamboo shoots so we could “improve” our meals, while an old ice-cream seller gave us extras without charging. Getting lost was never a problem, just another opportunity to interact with residents who always had time and patience to give. The pure laughter of local children who go to school on bare feet, sometimes without proper attire because they are too poor, will stay with us forever. Their school was built from three almost-torn down houses and a few wooden planks. Many Vietnamese backpackers keep revisiting the Village, charmed by the people and their children, carrying clothes, goods, books, notebooks and other things donated by others to give to locals.

The route

The Tay Tien route starts in Mai Chau District’s Ban Lac Village, which is some 140 kilometers from Hanoi. Travelers can take a bus at the capital’s My Dinh Bus Station. Or go by motorbike and follow the National Road 6.

From Ban Lac, follow Road 15A to reach Co Luong Town, also part of Hoa Binh. In Co Luong, go along the Ma River to reach Hoi Xuan Town, Quan Hoa District, Thanh Hoa Province. After that, go along Road 520, for 112 kilometers to reach Muong Lat.

Sai Khao is 15-18 kilometers from Muong Ly Commune, Muong Lat.

The whole trip from Hanoi to Muong Lat is some 420 kilometers, and full of challenges. Travelers should expect to meet numerous bridges made from bamboo and wood. They cross over rivers, streams and rocky creeks.

The path to Muong Lat is tough, with tortuous sections that run along the mountains. Moreover, some of them have been hit by landslides and rockslides over the years, so after rains, they become almost impossible, even for experienced drivers, to ride on.

It was lucky that the day of our trip was sunny, but since some parts of the road were under construction, we had to cross the Ma River to change our route. The thrill (and fear) of being on a bamboo raft crossing the fierce river is, as they say, “something else.”

In the end, the risks are worth it, as the trip delivers innumerable delights. At some parts, for example, the road is bigger and decorated with bamboo barriers that local people make to protect their terraced fields.

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Voyager Ă  Ba Vi, un souvenir inoubliable
05/11/2012 16:25
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Central Viet Nam's traditional wooden architecture is unique despite its similarities with eastern systems like those found in China and Japan, a Japanese expert has said. Continue reading →

Quang Nam's ethnic villages top attraction for motorbike tourists

The mountainous district of Tay Giang, 190km west of Tam Ky City in the central province of Quang Nam, is increasingly becoming known as a prime destination for motorbike adventures. The area offers amazing scenery and the opportunity to glimpse the lifestyle of members of the ethnic minority group Co Tu, who make up the majority of the district's population of 13,000. Continue reading →

Revamp for Hue's Princess Temple

The Hue Centre for Monuments Conservation and the UNESCO World Heritage Institute under the Japanese-based Waseda University on Tuesday broke ground for restoration of Dien Phuoc Princess Temple in Kim Long Ward in the former royal city of Hue. Continue reading →

Sculptural exhibition opens

Sculptural exhibition is opened in Ha Noi and will run until November 25. Continue reading →

Outdoor concerts back in Hanoi

A series of outdoor classical music concerts -- the LUALA Fall-Winter Concert -- will be held in Hanoi from November 10 to December 9. Continue reading →

YĂȘn Tu, haut lieu de tourisme spirituel

Le site de YĂȘn Tu, dans la province de Quang Ninh (Nord), a rĂ©cemment Ă©tĂ© classĂ© par l'Organisation des records du Vietnam en tant qu'une des dix meilleures destinations du tourisme spirituel du pays. Continue reading →

Le sanctuaire de My Son

Le sanctuaire de My Son est situĂ© sur la commune de Duy Phu, district de Duy XuyĂȘn, dans la province de Quang Nam, Ă  69 km au Sud-Ouest de DĂ  Nang et Ă  20 km de la citadelle de TrĂ  KiĂȘu. C’est un ensemble de temples Cham en ruine, nichĂ©s dans une vallĂ©e d’environ 2 km de diamĂštre. Continue reading →

Le vestige d'Oc Eo pour une reconnaissance de l’UNESCO

Le ministĂšre de la Culture, des Sports et du Tourisme a rĂ©cemment approuvĂ© l’élaboration du dossier de candidature du vestige d’Oc Eo-Ba ThĂȘ Ă  soumettre Ă  l'UNESCO pour reconnaissance en tant que patrimoine culturel mondial. Continue reading →

City hopes tourists won't pass up new site

The central city of Da Nang has made plans to invest in a new tourist site at the top of the Hai Van Pass in order to lure domestic and foreign tourists, vice director of the city's culture, sport and tourism department, Tran Chi Cuong has said. Continue reading →

Street of flowers for Year of Snake celebrations

Bach Dang Street in Da Nang will be transformed into a 1km long flower display for eight days of celebration for the coming Lunar New Year, from February 7-14. Continue reading →

Travelers to Vietnam to see visa fees to nearly double in 2013

It will cost foreign and overseas Vietnamese visitors to nearly double to obtain visas to come to Vietnam starting next year. Continue reading →

Randonnées automnales à Tam Dao

Le climat agrĂ©able de l’automne est propice Ă  la randonnĂ©e dans le massif de Tam Dao, avec comme destinations phares les pics ThiĂȘn Thi (1.375 m), Thach BĂ n (1.388m) et PhĂč Nghia (1.400 m), accessibles seulement aprĂšs plusieus heures de marche. Continue reading →

Quang Ninh développe le tourisme culturel

La province de Quang Ninh (Nord) est cĂ©lĂšbre non seulement pour son tourisme naturel, Ă  commencer par la baie de Ha Long, mais aussi par son tourisme culturel extrĂȘmement riche. Continue reading →

Mekong Delta offers unique tourism opportunities

In context of the current economic woes in the world, the tourism sector is still striving to attract more people to visit the Mekong Delta area in Vietnam, which is offering unique, stress free and exotic tours. Continue reading →

Free street musical performances, a joy for many people

Music lovers are in plenty in the country who enjoy musical performances, shows and skits in theaters and even tea lounges in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Continue reading →

The hidden side of ancient Hue

When you talk about tourism in the ancient city of Hue, many people will think about the mausoleums of the Vietnamese kings. Continue reading →

Balade dans l’ancien village de Thu LĂȘ

L’ancien village de Thu LĂȘ est situĂ© prĂšs de la lagune de Tam Giang, commune de Quang Phuoc, district de Quang DiĂȘn, province de Thua ThiĂȘn-HuĂȘ (Centre). FondĂ© au milieu de la dynastie des LĂȘ (1428-1788), il a conservĂ© ses us et coutumes ainsi que son magnifique patrimoine bĂąti. Continue reading →

Red River seeks tourists by the boatload

The government wants 2013 to be the year tourism really takes off in Viet Nam and will make the Red River Delta a focal point of this drive by highlighting its wealth of heritage and stunning natural beauty. Continue reading →

Vietnam first contemporary Cham tower opens in Hanoi

Vietnam’s first ever Cham temple tower built by contemporary architects and artisans opened in Hanoi on Friday with traditional ceremonies organized by Cham people. Continue reading →

Source des poissons "mystérieux" à Thanh Hoa

Sur la route HĂŽ Chi Minh, Ă  plus de 150 km de Hanoi, les touristes peuvent dĂ©couvrir un lieu particulier, la Source des poissons "mystĂ©rieux". Continue reading →

Victoria Resort chain plants trees at schools

Victoria Can Tho Resort planted hundreds of trees last Saturday at schools in Can Tho, Cai Rang town, and Hau Giang Province as part of its "Green Day" campaign. Continue reading →

Pilgrims enjoy hard but happy journey to Viet Nam's far west

A Pa Chai hamlet is well-known to travellers as the westpoint of Viet Nam and a junction between it, Laos and China. Continue reading →

Transcending the mundane in An Giang

It is common knowledge in Vietnam that the Mekong Delta in Vietnam has two seasons, the “dry” one between December and April, and the “rainy” one between May and November. Continue reading →

Peripheral attractions

There is something about a mountain that is sacred, maybe it is its aloofness, the fact that it stands away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, offering an ideal space for introspection, reflection and meditation. And some mountains become sacred hotspots after houses of worship are constructed on them. Continue reading →

Pagode de Bai Dinh : entre culte et gigantisme

La Pagode de Bai Dinh peut s’énorgueillir de moult records. Elle fait figure du plus grand complexe de temples bouddhistes d’Asie du Sud-Est, arborant une architecture aussi monumentale qu’impressionnante. À dĂ©couvrir absolument ! Continue reading →

Des patrimoines en attente d’un classement

À cĂŽtĂ© des patrimoines dĂ©jĂ  reconnus par l’UNESCO, le pays compte encore bien d’autres sites dignes d’entrer dans la liste. Trois ont retenu notre attention. Continue reading →

Let's go green in Sa Pa

It was the third time I had visited Sa Pa town, surrounded by mountains and rice terraces, but this time I had the most fun.

I tasted specialities, learned handicraft skills and contributed my labour to make Sa Pa more clean and green. Continue reading →

Les grottes et les riviĂšres de TrĂ ng An pourraient sĂ©duire l’UNESCO pour 2014

Le secrĂ©taire de l’organisation du Parti de la province de Ninh Binh (Nord), BĂči Van Nam, a annoncĂ© que le site de TrĂ ng An pourrait ĂȘtre reconnu patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO en 2014. Continue reading →

Nature et culture, le pari gagnant de HuĂȘ

La province de Thua ThiĂȘn-HuĂȘ compte dĂ©velopper un tourisme durable reliĂ© Ă  la protection de la nature, valoriser ses sites touristiques naturels ainsi que culturels. Continue reading →

Phantasmagoria aboard the Nha Trang Booze Cruise

While some travelers to Vietnam complain that the country’s tourist industry pales in comparison to those of other Southeast Asian destinations, I for one am glad that newcomers to Vietnam can still dig the raw madness of the Nha Trang Booze Cruise. Continue reading →

Aller son train !

Tous ceux qui viennent au Vietnam vous le diront : un voyage en train est toujours une tranche de vie particuliĂšre. D’abord par la durĂ©e ! Pour l’Occidental habituĂ© Ă  la surenchĂšre de rapiditĂ© des transports, le train au Vietnam a des allures de sĂ©nateur rĂ©Ă©lu Ă  vie ! Mais c’est justement cette sereine lenteur qui donne du piment Ă  ces voyages en train. On n’y passe pas, on y vit ! Continue reading →

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The special ambience of Christmas has warmed up big cities like Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh. In many corners of the capital, from streets to family homes, from churches to shops, decorations with lights, snow, Santa Clauses and Christmas gifts are appearing. Continue reading →

TrĂ  CĂŽ, la plage la plus septentrionale du pays

SituĂ© Ă  l’extrĂȘme nord-est du pays, le bourg de TrĂ  CĂŽ (ville de Mong Cai, province de Quang Ninh, Nord) possĂšde de beaux paysages, une plage, des temples, des pagodes et une ancienne Ă©glise. Selon les statistiques locales, TrĂ  CĂŽ accueille annuellement des dizaines de milliers de touristes. Continue reading →

Relics unravel Cham history

Many valuable artefacts from the Cham culture have been found in the southern central province of Binh Thuan. The new discoveries are important for ongoing research on the ancient culture, according to Nguyen Xuan Ly, director of the provincial museum. Continue reading →

Le Parc national de Mui CĂ  Mau, nouveau site Ramsar

Le Parc national de Mui CĂ  Mau est reconnu le 13 dĂ©cembre comme site Ramsar du monde par l'Organisation mondiale de l'environnement (OME), devenant le 5e site du Vietnam. Continue reading →

DĂ©couverte de l'Ăźle de Cu Lao Re

L’üle de Cu Lao Re ou Ăźle de Ly Son (Grande Ăźle), qui relĂšve du district insulaire de Ly Son de la province de Quang Ngai (Centre), est une des destinations prisĂ©es de cette localitĂ©. Cette Ăźle est renommĂ©e pour ses plages baignĂ©es d’eau turquoise et ses beaux paysages qui font d’elle un paradis qui est attrayante pour tous. Continue reading →

Dix Ăźles de rĂȘve Ă  visiter

Le Vietnam est connu des visiteurs Ă©trangers pour ses nombreux sites touristiques attrayants, notamment cĂŽtiers et maritimes. Le journal francophone Vietnamien 'Le Courrier du Vietnam' nous prĂ©sente dix Ăźles Ă  ne pas manquer. Continue reading →

Les mĂ©tiers traditionnels au rendez-vous Ă  HuĂȘ

Avec le Festival de HuĂȘ, le Festival des mĂ©tiers traditionnels est devenu une attraction touristique originale de l’ancienne ville impĂ©riale. La 5e Ă©dition de cette fĂȘte bisannuelle aura lieu du 27 avril au 1er mai 2013. Continue reading →

Patrimoine de HuĂȘ - Semaine des touristes

Le programme "Patrimoine de HuĂȘ - Semaine des touristes" aura lieu du 24 au 30 dĂ©cembre, a annoncĂ© la province de Thua ThiĂȘn-HuĂȘ (Centre). Continue reading →

DĂ©couverte de l'Ăźle de Cu Lao Re

L’üle de Cu Lao Re ou Ăźle de Ly Son (Grande Ăźle), qui relĂšve du district insulaire de Ly Son de la province de Quang Ngai (Centre), est une des destinations prisĂ©es de cette localitĂ©. Cette Ăźle est renommĂ©e pour ses plages baignĂ©es d’eau turquoise et ses beaux paysages qui font d’elle un paradis qui est attrayante pour tous. Continue reading →

Le village de cuivre de Ngu Xa a son gardien du feu

AprĂšs avoir traversĂ© de nombreuses difficultĂ©s, les artisans du village de la fonderie du cuivre de Ngu Xa ont rĂ©ussi Ă  conserver leur mĂ©tier traditionnel et Ă  relancer la production. NguyĂȘn Van Ung est l’un d’entre eux. Continue reading →

Le succĂšs de l’écotourisme culturel Ă  HĂŽi An

À l’ñge de 34 ans, TrĂąn Van Khoa est dĂ©jĂ  patron d’un petite sociĂ©tĂ© spĂ©cialisĂ©e dans des circuits touristiques d’un genre nouveau, dĂ©nommĂ©s : «riziculteur, maraĂźcher ou pĂȘcheur l’espace d’un jour». Le principe est simple : retrousser ses manches et ses bas de pantalon ! Continue reading →

Bac Ha horse race

On May 29, in the blazing sun of the mountainous region, 24 racehorses from Bac Ha, Si Ma Cai and Muong Khuong in Lao Cai province entered the finale to seek the winner of a VND20 million ($1000) bonus. Continue reading →

Les estampes populaires de DĂŽng HĂŽ en route pour l'UNESCO

Le ministĂšre de la Culture, des Sports et du Tourisme a donnĂ© son feu vert Ă  l'Ă©laboration d'un dossier de candidature du mĂ©tier de fabrication d'estampes populaires de DĂŽng HĂŽ, qui sera soumis Ă  l'UNESCO en vue d'une reconnaissance en tant que patrimoine immatĂ©riel de l'HumanitĂ© pour la pĂ©riode 2012-2016. Continue reading →

Dong Ho folk paintings listed as national heritage

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism listed Dong Ho folk paintings as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage Continue reading →

BientĂŽt la Foire internationale du tourisme Vietnam - Hanoi 2013

Le ComitĂ© d'organisation de la Foire internationale du tourisme Vietnam - Hanoi 2013 (Viet Nam International Travel Mart - VITM Ha Noi 2013) a rĂ©cemment organisĂ© Ă  Hanoi la 1Ăšre confĂ©rence de presse sous l’auspice de l’Association du Tourisme du Vietnam.
Cet Ă©vĂ©nement a vu la prĂ©sence du vice-prĂ©sident del’Association du Tourisme du Vietnam, M. Vu The Binh ; des reprĂ©sentants du ComitĂ© populaire de la ville de Hanoi ; de l’Administration Nationale du Tourisme ; des Services de la Culture, des Sports et du Tourisme des villes Hanoi, HĂŽ Chi Minh-Ville, Hai Phong, et de la province Thua Thien-Hue et de certaines entreprises touristiques.
Continue reading →

Viet Nam to organize four international travel marts in 2013

On March 5th 2013, in Ha Noi, Mr. Hoang Tuan Anh – Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MOCST) chaired a working session on preparation for organizing international travel marts in 2013. Continue reading →

Escapade printaniĂšre Ă  PĂč LuĂŽng

La rĂ©serve naturelle de PĂč LuĂŽng, province de Thanh Hoa (Nord), est de plus en plus frĂ©quentĂ©e par les touristes. Beaux paysages, faune et flore diversifiĂ©es, spĂ©cialitĂ©s gastronomiques locales, etc. Un site Ă  ne pas manquer Ă  l’arrivĂ©e des premiers bourgeons. Continue reading →

Pu Luong National Reserve

Pu Luong Nature Reserve, just a stone's throw from Hanoi, makes for an idyllic and scenic getaway from the big smoke. In the words of the local Thai people, Pu Luong means the "highest peak", it's loftiest zenith towering 1,700m above the valleys of Quan Hoa and Ba Thu, in Thanh Hoa Province. Continue reading →

Vietnamese cuisine to become tourism attraction

Once established, the national trademark “the World’s Kitchen” will draw people from all the five continents to explore Vietnam’s culture through local cuisine. Continue reading →

Dong Van old market back in business

The old Dong Van Market in the Dong Van Karst Plateau of Ha Giang Province has reopened for tourism after a new market was built for locals 500m away, vice chairwoman of the People's Committee of Dong Van District Ly Thi Kien told Viet Nam News yesterday. Continue reading →

Dong Van et son marché

Dong Van – Petit village pittoresque dominĂ© par deux pics calcaires. Continue reading →

Mai Chau named among top 10 fresh destinations

Mai Chau was described as "a semi-isolated village in Viet Nam...surrounded by limestone cliffs and green rice paddies, populated largely by members of the ethnic White Thai tribe..." by Continue reading →

Les RiziĂšres en terrasses de Hoang Su Phi reconnues comme patrimoine national

Les riziĂšres en terrasse du district de Hoang Su Phi dans la province frontiĂšre de de Ha Giang dans le nord du Vietnam ont Ă©tĂ© reconnus comme un site du patrimoine national par le MinistĂšre de la Culture, des Sports et du Tourisme. Continue reading →

Terraced fields of Hoang Su Phi recognized as national heritage

The terraced rice fields of Hoang Su Phi District in the northern border province of Ha Giang have been recognized as a national heritage site by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Continue reading →

Le ''Festival du Patrimoine de Quang Nam'' s'ouvrira du 22 au 26 juin

Le 5e ''Festival du Patrimoine de Quang Nam'' se dĂ©roulera du 22 au 26 juin, a annoncĂ© le ComitĂ© populaire de la province de Quang Nam (Centre) Ă  l'issue de sa sĂ©ance de travail, le 10 avril, avec le vice-ministre de la Culture, des Sports et du Tourisme, HĂŽ Anh TuĂąn. Continue reading →

Quang Nam destined for Heritage Festival in June

The Hanoitimes - The 5th Quang Nam Heritage Festival will take place o¬n June 22-26 in the central Quang Nam province to boost tourism in the region and country. Continue reading →

Mai Chau town listed in top ten fresh destinations

Mai Chau, a small town in the northern mountainous province of Hoa Binh, was named o¬ne of the top ten "fresh" Asian destinations by hotel booking site Continue reading →

Escapade patrimoniale Ă  Hai Phong

La ville portuaire de Hai Phong (Nord) est rĂ©putĂ©e pour ses environs, avec la station balnĂ©aire de DĂŽ Son et sa plage de sable fin bordĂ©e de filaos verts, mais aussi l’üle de Cat BĂ , rĂ©serve de biosphĂšre mondiale. La ville en elle-mĂȘme cache bien des surprises. Visite guidĂ©e. Continue reading →

DĂ©couverte de la grotte de lave la plus longue d’Asie du Sud-Est Ă  DĂŽng Nai

Des explorateurs vietnamiens et allemands ont dĂ©couvert une grotte de lave dans la province mĂ©ridionale de DĂŽng Nai qui, selon eux, est la plus longue du genre en Asie du Sud-Est, lors d’une campagne d'Ă©tude de deux mois de 11 cavernes de lave dans les districts de TĂąn PhĂș et Dinh Quan, Ă  DĂŽng Nai (Sud). Continue reading →

Discovery of longest lava cave in Southeast Asia

A system of lava caves including one considered as the longest lava cave of Southeast Asia has been discovered in the southern province of Dong Nai, according to researcher Truong Ba Vuong of the Viet Nam's Institute of Tropical Biology. Continue reading →