There is no doubt that the Vietnam is brimming with beautiful, charming places. Large cities like Hanoi or in Saigon offer a great deal to a person wanting to experience today’s Vietnam. But if you are wanting to strip away the cars and scooters, high rise apartments or fast food restaurants and experience something more authentic, exit these major cities and visit one of many picturesque Vietnamese villages that are filled with old-world charm and tranquil beauty. Is this some what modern travelers are searching for?
We’ve made a list of some of 3 favorite small villages that you should plan to spend some time in or take a few days. Away from the bustle of big city life, each has a unique charm and atmosphere.
1. Duong Lam Ancient Village (Hanoi)
Located 45 km west of the center of Hanoi, Duong Lam is the finest example of typical northern ancient Vietnamese villages. You can get there by renting a car with driver from your hotel (around 80 dollars US or so for the day). Undertaking thousands years of history, the village still possesses its original structure with banyan tree, water well, communal house, endless rice fields… Duong Lam is a good place to learn about Vietnamese history and culture. This is the birthplace of two national heroes: King Ngo Quyen and King Phung Hung. It’s a very atmospheric place to walk around, and villagers (many of whom appear to be octogenarians) are particularly friendly and keen to chat.
2. Pom Coong (Mai Chau)
Ban Pom Coong (Pom Coong Village) is a small village in Mai Chau town (4-hour drive from Hanoi). The village is tucked away in the mountains of northern Vietnam and is inhabited mostly by Thai people. The village is an ideal haven from the pressure of life with its lush landscape and relaxing atmosphere. The community still lives in a ‘pure Thai’ space. Recently, many villagers open up their homes for homestays and sell handicrafts for souvenirs, gorgeous embroidered bags and brocade products in bright colors while others help entertain tourists by traditional music performances or serving regional specialties like sticky rice cooked in bamboo cylinders, “man” pig (a small breed that we can carry in our arm), can liquor (wine drunk out of a jar through pipes).
Visiting Pom Coong Village, tourists also have a chance to stay on stilt houses with local host family, enjoy home made meals with them and immerse in traditional culture by joining traditional song and dance performances with friendly ethnic people. Here, artisan booths offer chock full of handicraft items for sale: handmade scarves, purses, coin pouches, and other textile goods… You can buy lovely one without having to haggle on price. Purchasing souvenirs is a good way to support the local community, you know.
3. Cam Thanh Eco Village (Hoi An)
Hoi An is a beguiling place to spend a few days, with the lazy Thu Bon River lined with distinctive yellow wall houses. Half way between the town and Cua Dai Beach lies the eco-villge of Cam Thanh where you can truly relax with nature. Like any other rural villages in countryside of Vietnam, this is great place to enjoy fresh air, ride a bike or watch daily life of countrymen. But the highlight here is the Bay Mau forest – a vast space of endless green nipa palms (here, locals call it ‘water coconut’). In the war time, this area is used as a safe haven for Vietnamese soldiers. Nowadays, travelers can discover the tranquil palm flanked waterways by boat. It sounds like the same with a trip in Mekong Delta? It’s not a normal boat but an unique traditional fishing boat: the basket boat.
You will be amazed to see how talented the local fishermen are when they show their skills to keep the boat balance, perform with their boat and even dance on the boat. Along the way, you can learn how to paddle the basket boat, see demonstrations of fishing techniques while admiring landscapes. What’s more interesting, they will show you how to make lovely accessories out of palm leaves: glasses, ring, watch or headband…0