Lang Son And Mai Chau – Vietnam
Lang Son is a mountainous area located farther north where the 0 km landmark of National Highway 1A starts (Friendship gate) and largely populated by Tho, Nung, Man and Dzao Montagnards. Most travelers come to Lang Son because of its role as a trading post and crossing point into China.
What to do?
Highlights of Lang Son are the two large and beautiful caves just 2.5km from Lang Son’s centre named Tam Thanh and Nhi Thanh. Both are illuminated and have Buddhist altars inside. Or big shopping days at Dong Kinh Market, where lots of cheap items from China sold here.
Lang Son is also famous for winter fruits like peaches, pears, plums and persimmons as well as grilled duck and pork in Chinese cuisine. People also come here to cross to China over Dong Dang border gate, 20 km from Lang Son.
When to do?
In Lang Son, there is a clear distinction between seasons of a typical climate of the Northern Vietnam. Annual average temperature is from 17 to 22o Celsius.
For those who enter Vietnam from China through Lang Son, you MUST have the correct entry point (Dong Dang) marked on your visa, otherwise you may be turned away. This can create a problem as you would have already officially left China.
Only 135 km far from Hanoi, Mai Chau is one of the closest places where you can visit a Montagnard village. It is a beautiful area surrounded by a green valley and stilt houses. Most people here are the White Thai, very friendly and helpful. And staying with the local in thatched-roof stilted house on split bamboo floors and eating local food is a great experience.
What to do?
Highlights of Mai Chau journeys are staying overnight in Thai stilt house, walking across the beautiful valley through rice fields and light or hard trekking to nearby villages.
When to go?
It is possible to come to Mai Chau all year round; but the best period is from September to April of next year when it doesn’t rain much and this weather is perfect for trekking.
Homestay condition is basic. Mattresses and mosquito nets are provided. Before tour, bring along with you good walking shoes, raincoats, jackets, torch, insect repellent and sunscreen. In the evening, communicate with villagers and they can help to organize traditional dance performance at a reasonable price.