Update: 10:03 | 27/10/2020
In Lam Thuong Valley of Yen Bai Province, visitors can experience Tay ethnic stilt house living or trek to mountain peaks and caves.
Lam Thuong boasts necessities for a tranquil travel experience, with a combination of natural beauties, from lush natural forests, hilltops to waterfalls, and cultural attractions, from picturesque rice fields to Tay ethnic villages.
Rice fields in Lam Thuong in summer.
A commune of Luc Yen District, 250 km from Hanoi, Lam Thuong is located between two famous tourist attractions Sa Pa and Ha Giang.
Primarily populated by the Tay ethnicity, Lam Thuong’s stilt houses bear an iconic architectural style, with wooden walls, thick palm-foliage roofs and many windows. Many houses date back over 50 years.
Inside each stilt house, there is a shared space, where the whole family dines and rests each evening. As the sun rises, locals store their bedding on an upper storey, turning the shared space into a spacious living room to host incoming guests, with wide open windows on all sides.
The Tay primarily subsist on agriculture, and animal rearing. Each family has a nearby plot of land preserved for rice cultivation, and a pond for fish and duck breeding. Some families also raise chickens, pigs and rabbits, and grow dragon fruit to diversify their means of income.
A stream with lush canopies in Lam Thuong.
Surrounded by mountainous forests, Lam Thuong Valley is usually covered with low layers of clouds at sunrise. In the early hours, locals ignite their stoves for breakfast, before heading out to the farm. These daily routines envelope each stilt house in a haze of chimney smoke, creating a mesmerizing morning scene.
Visitors to Lam Thuong Valley are peacefully woken up by the rooster’s morning call. Sufficiently fed, tourists could embark on typical morning walk or bike ride along the paddy fields of Tong Pang, Tong Pinh Cai, and Tham Pat villages.
Though not as frequently visited as many other attractions in Yen Bai, Lam Thuong Valley distinguishes itself with its tranquility. From Lam Thuong's center, tourists could journey for only few kilometers to local waterfalls, mountain caves, or hilltops.
Regardless of seasons, local hosts usually recommend tourists spend a full day trekking to Khuoi Luong Stream near Nam Chan Waterfall. Here, visitors could dive into the cool stream, or picnic by the bank surrounded by natural forests.
Tourists could join the group of ethnic youngsters to Keo Village or Na Ken Waterfall for some swimming, or trek to Khai Trung and Tham Duong caves, or Lung Trang and Khau Chau peaks.
Visitors to Lam Thuong are also in for an organic treat. Meals here, all prepared using organic ingredients sourced from local farms, include purple sticky rice, goby fish, jungle bamboo sprouts, stream moss and grilled chicken.
A meal in the valley costs only VND80,000 – 150,000 ($3.4-$6.5) a person, which can be ordered in advance. Trekkers could also buy raw ingredients from the village to cook en route.
Situated off the beaten track, tourists have few options when it comes to lodging, with Xoi Farmstay in Tong Pang Village at Lam Thuong's center a choice.
The stilt-house lodge features the cheerful sounds from a nearby kindergarten, the peaceful scenery of surrounding paddy fields, a tranquil pond and a gentle stream at the back.
A meal offers local specialties to tourists in Lam Thuong.
Lodge owner Hoang Thi Xoi, a Tay tourism graduate, gained many years of experience as a tour guide before returning to open the homestay in her family house. She hopes to turn Lam Thuong Valley into a beloved travel destination for those seeking tranquility, and to further promote Tay ethnic culture.
Prices per night range from VND150,000 per person. Tourists could further opt for a private room, costing VND700,000 per night, which includes complimentary breakfasts and vehicle rental.
To reach Lam Thuong Valley, visitors could take a coach from Hanoi’s My Dinh or Gia Lam bus stations to Yen Bai Province’s Luc Yen station for VND180,000 – VND200,000, before grabbing a taxi to Tong Pang Village. It is recommended to spend at least two nights in Lam Thuong, as traveling time takes up at least 12 hours each way.