Leaving the bustling streets and hustle of modern life, come to the beautiful small villages of Vietnam to rediscover the traditional values and identity of the homeland still existing there throughout the long evolutionary history and the pressures of modern life.
For domestic and foreign tourists Vietnam is well-known as a tourist destination with beautiful natural scenery, but when you are too boring with the noisy and bustling destinations, you need places that are peaceful and close to the local people, places that do not only own the natural scenery but also the characteristics of traditional culture, the 15 traditional villages below distributing from the North to the South of Vietnam will be suggestions not to be missed for you for local experiences. What are you waiting for?
1.Thien Huong Village – Ha Giang Province
Located 7 km from Dong Van town, Thien Huong village, also known as Mã Pắng village, is a very special village that still retains the cultural of the Tay people, especially the typical architectural complex with the soil houses that has been gradually lost in other ethnic communities, the traditional customs and rituals. According to the natives, the road to the village is upstream of the Nho Que river running from China. To get into the village, people have to go through a muddy, extremely difficult road with many potholes, especially on rainy days, there are also rock landslides, perhaps for those difficulties not many travellers know and dare to come to this village. But when you reach here, what you get back is worthy for your effort.
Just as you arrive at the entrance of the village, you will see hundred year old banyan trees standing guard and the Lâm temple (Temple of Forest Protector) of the people here, in Lunar Calendar of March anually the villagers held traditional ritual to worship the Forest Protector. Currently, there are only about 43 households with 100 people, mainly the Tay and Day people.
The attractive points of the village are the ancient architecture and the rustic people, winding roads, the houses roofed with Yin-Yang tiles mixed with the clouds of the northwestern, all create a peaceful poetic picture.
The economy of villagers mainly relies on agriculture and wine-making. Although over hundreds of years have passed, Thien Huong village still retains the wild characteristics being inherent from ancient times, that have not been touristy, so the people are friendly, honest and rustic. If you want to spend the night in the village, you can stay at a house of any villager and learn about the local family life. Certainly it will be an unforgettable memory for any visitor coming here.
2. Phia Thap Village – Cao Bang province
Along the highway 3 to the Trung Khanh district, Phia Thap village is located in Quoc Dan commune, Quang Uyen district, Cao Bang province appearing with stilt houses at the foot of the Pha Hung mountains surrounded by large and small mountains. Currently Phia Thap village has 51 households, all are the Nung people, the villagers here work in agriculture and make incense sticks manually to develop the family economy.
Phia Thap is the only village still maintaining handmade incense craftwork in Cao Bang. With a completely natural composition, the incense made in Phia Thap village has a spicy, pungent aroma due to the agarwood leaves. The stick part of incense is made from a material of the limestone mountains of apricot tree (“may muong” in Tay language), bark of red-silk cotton tree, sawdust and especially gourd potting – a tree in the forest used as a sticky substance which serves binding all materials together. After a lot of workmanship, the incense sticks are left to dry to prepare to be sold in the Quang Uyen fair taken place on the 11th of the lunar calendar monthly and sold to travellers.
Coming here, you also have the opportunity to understand the Nu people through house architecture and traditional costumes still preserved until today. A characteristic of the stilt houses of Phia Thap village is that there is a small tunnel under the drying yard, which is an airtight place for dried incense. On Tet holidays, Phia Thap people often worship their ancestors with incense sticks made by them.
Phia Thap village not only has a very unique incense stick craftwork, but also is one of the villages in the Cao Bang Geological Park Complex with quite beautiful natural scenery and peaceful cohabitation of minor ethnic groups here. If you have the opportunity to visit Phia Thap, do not forget to visit the neighboring villages to experience the local lives of different ethnic groups in the mountainous region of Cao Bang.
3.Choan Then Village
Y Ti commune is located at an altitude of 2000 m, in Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, 70km from the center of Sapa town. This is considered a great place for nice hunting photoshoot images and travellers to experience the indigenous life.
The road to Y Ti is like a cloudy road because of floating and fanciful clouds all around. From here you can see dimly soil houses of the Ha Nhi people, the houses are made from compacted soil. Following the road to Y Ti, you will come to Choan Then village – an ancient village of Y Ti commune formed 300 years ago and now there are 50 households of black Ha Nhi living here.
From Choản Thèn village, you can see many pristine landscapes, especially in the early morning, the village hidden in the clouds that create an extremely poetic picture.
Although only 50 households are living here, the Ha Nhi is one of the few ethnic minorities that still keep their typical cultural features such as house architecture, costumes, and traditional rituals in daily life. Relating to the architecture, the soil house of Ha Nhi people is different from the one of other ethnic groups, their house is square with 4 roofs covered with thick grass, and the stone embankment is very meticulous. The Ha Nhi costume is indigo black so the people here are also called the Black Ha Nhi. The Villagers have a tradition of cultivating on terraced fields, raising animals and weaving brocade. Many unique customs of the Ha Nhi people, such as the concept of worshiping the God of Fire, the God of Kitchen, and the Earth God, with desire of keeping the family warm and cozy.
It is surely that Choan Then is an interesting destination on the journey to explore the villages of Vietnam
4.Đao Thuc Village
Located 10 km from Hanoi along the bank of the Ca Lo River, the old village of Dao Thuc (Dong Anh district, Hanoi), being known as the homeland of the water puppet art, appears quietly as a witness to history of this region.
Like many other ancient villages of the Northern Delta, in the village’s entrance there is a small temple and water-court, the stage of puppet shows with dark red tile roofs that have faded over time.
Water puppet is an art formed here since the 16th century, which is the creative product of hardworking rice farmers in the Northern Delta. This art takes water as the main stage, puppets are controlled by artisans behind the veil in the typical trumpets and drums. The contents of the puppet shows are often stories of humanity meaning expressing the desire for a happy life, praising farmers characteristics or retelling the historical scenes.
The special thing is that the puppeteers are the sincere rustic farmers, these artisans of water puppets are trying tirelessly keeping the traditional arts associated with the history of formation and development of the village.
When seeing the water puppet, you do not only feel happy and relaxed, but also have the opportunity to enjoy the soft folk rhythm of traditional love songs of the ancient northern people. Dao Thuc Water Puppet Village people always try to create interesting and unique repertoires to attract tourists from everywhere. Currently, Dao Thuc water puppet village has gathered nearly 50 performers. They are farmers, artisans, including high school students that are dedicated and willing to live with the traditional folk water puppet art of their homeland.
If you have the opportunity to visit Dao Thuc village, don’t forget take a chance to learn how to control puppets and enjoy shows then you can understand more about the wet rice cultivation culture of ancient Vietnamese.
5.Chang Son paper fan making village
About 30 km from the center of Hanoi in the Northwest, Chang Son craft village is located in the green rice fields and striking with the colorful paper fans exposed on small alleys in the village.
Like other villages in the Northern Delta, Chang Son Craft Village still retains ancient architectural features with banyan trees, wells, communal yards, tiled roofs, village gates. When entering the village, you will be impressed by the long lines of handmade paper fans with colors put out to air along the entrances to the village. Paper fan-making has been here for hundreds of years, over time, with the change of market mechanism, paper fans here have been made with improvement in pattern, design, type and materials thanks to skillful hands and acumen of artisans.
The basic materials to make a craft fan in Chang Son include: bamboo, paper or cloth, glue and nails. Bamboo selected to be made fan must be a good quality one (flexible, old, non-termite and soaked in water for more than 4 months). The artisans of paper fan- making are farmers, not painters or high profesional trained, but the paintings or textures they painte on the fans are really outstanding and lively. The final stage is fan drying, Chang Son people take advantage of all the empty space on sunny days to expose such as walkways, yards, racks,… that’s why photographers often come here to capture the beautiful moments on the colorful road.
In addition to preserving traditional occupations, Chang Son village is also an ancient village with old architectural features such as the brick arches of the communal house, pagodas, shrines, moss covered the walls creating classical beauty for the hundred year old village.
Although with the development of modern life, no one uses fans craft anymore, the villagers still work hard with the fan as a way to preserve the traditional craft of their ancestors. Coming to Trang Son on sunny days, visitors will be living in the vibrant space of the colors and beauty of work of art while visiting the houses of the people here. You can also make your own paper fan as a souvenir to memorize this interesting trip.
6.Van Lam embroidery craft village
Van Lam village in Ninh Hai commune, Hoa Lu district, located in Tam Coc – Bich Dong tourist area, has a long tradition of embroidery and is well-known throughout the country. This village is considered a land of all the elite of embroidery in Vietnam.
Embroidery has been here for more than 700 years. Previously, Van Lam villagers specialized in embroidery of costumes serving for rituals, festivals of spiritual and cultural life in the Vietnamese feudal dynasties. The embroidery lace was learned from the French from around 1910, from then on Van Lam has become the most beautiful embroidery lace village in Vietnam. Van Lam’s embroidery products are also presented at fairs and tourist destinations throughout the country, and always preferable for domestic and international customers.
To embroider a pattern for a high-end product, artisans must count each fabric carefully to make it balanced and harmonious. The needle and thread must be used accurately and sensitively. The embroidery is very delicate, flexible, soft, sophisticated, but lively and smooth as art masterpieces. Women who know embroidery are gentle, skillful and delicate.
Currently in Van Lam there are 100% of households working at embroidery. 7 or 8-year-old children or even 70-80-year-old men can manipulate embroidery needles. However, the people here are not only engaged in embroidery but also work in agriculture.
Visiting Van Lam embroidery village, you will see women being wrapped up in their embroidery frames presenting the image of people and homeland beauty into this traditional products. Besides, travellers can also visit the temple of the ancestors who had the merit of bringing embroidery to Van Lam in the entrance of the village, hear interesting stories about this traditional craft of the village and try to learn some basic embroidery techniques that definitely make your trip to this place amazing.
7.An Xa sedge mat-waeving village
An Xa village located in Loc Thuy commune, Le Thuy district, Quang Binh province has long been known for its traditional sedge mat craft. Over many generations, An Xa villagers still feel proud of the traditional craft of their homeland.
In the peaceful Kien Giang river with charming scenery, the An Xa villagers used to work in agriculture in the past, while in the free time they made sedge mats, but now this handcraft has become an official job to earn a living. The sedge mat-making craftwork has been around for a long time, over 600 years ago. An Xa villagers who are hard-working, skillful, industrious and creative have taken advantage of the sedge in the river’s edge to make beautiful and high quality mat products to serve the living as well as to sell to people in the surrounding areas. Today, to meet the high demand of the market, people have grown seagrass themselves as raw materials for their production.
To make a handmade mat product, the worker has to do a lot of stages, from selecting sedge, carefully prepare for coloring because the dark color and pattern of the product decide significantly to the extent that it fades over the time, then cleverly and accurately weaving. To weave a mat, two people are needed, one to weave the mat and the other to put the sedge into the loom.
If you have the opportunity to come to An Xa in March to June of the lunar calendar, you will find the bustling atmosphere, hustle, drying yards with colored sedge, because every home is busy with the work of mat making, the sound of weaving machines steadily, the workers work hard while talking and laughing. Coming to An Xa, you can not only see the beauty of the village, the bright scenery but also experience the local life and learn about the culture of the village through the activity of mat-making with the local people.
8.Thanh Tien paper flower handicraft village
Thanh Tien village is located in Phu Mau commune, Phu Vang district, Thua Thien Hue province, located along the downstream of Huong River, near Sinh crossroad, famous for making paper flower, especially lotus.
Paper flower handicraft in Thanh Tien appeared 300 years ago, proceeded from folk beliefs. In the past, paper flowers were solemnly placed in the sanctuary of the house, every year the flowers were renewed on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, the old flowers were burned. Therefore, paper flower handicraft made in Thanh Tien has become a cultural heritage in the folk beliefs of Hue people.
The people of Thanh Tien Village know how to take advantage of available materials in their area such as bambusa trees, bamboo and with the abundant creativity they have created varios diffirent colorful flowers. To make flower stems, artisans must prepare stages from a few months before Hue in the rainy season. They choose good bamboo trees in the village to be chopped, thinned and dried to make flower stalks. The secret to making paper flowers is focused on staining, so that the paper retains color permanently. People making flowers do not use industrial chemicals, but use sap and leaves to make traditional-style dyes.
In Thanh Tien, anyone can make flowers, but until December of the lunar calendar that the atmosphere of flower-making will be bustling because that is the time when all the family go to buy this product to worship and decorate in the altars for the Lunar New Year.
Visitors coming to Hue, Thanh Tien Paper Flower Village is an attractive tourist destination to hands-on experience with making paper flowers and learn about the cultural and ritual life of this peaceful ancient village.
9.Lang Co fishing village
Lang Co is about 30 km (to the South) from Danang City and about 70 km from Hue City (to the North).
The fishing village in Lang Co Bay was formed more than 250 years ago. Lang Co is the name misread of Làng Cò (the Stork Village) – the first name given to this coastal land because there were many storks here.
No one can deny the beauty of Lang Co. In 2009, Lang Co became a member of the club “The most beautiful bays in the world”.
Located on Lang Co beach with gentle waves, one side is the sea, the other side is the mountain, the life of fishers’s families on Lap An lagoon is always peaceful and quiet, even though there are more and more tourist areas constributed out there. The life of the villagers is associated with the sea, men’s daily work is going fishing, women stay at home weaving nets, trading in seafood markets, children here are innocent and energetic playing simple games. All these things create a tranquil and peaceful scene that anyone who comes to Lang Co beach want to visit this village to feel that simple and cozy life. Although their life is still difficult, they continue quietly and diligently earning a living with this work that depends so much on the natural elements like weather, tides…
This place owns a rich source of seafood with green mussel, blood cockle, eel … especially oysters. Coming to Lang Co you will enjoy fresh seafood straight from the beach, but something to remember if you want to see the most beautiful moment of the village is that only early risers can watch the first boats weaving their way back into the land.
Visiting Lang Co will definitely help you to refresh yourself effectively and bring you so many nice memories with local life.
10.Wine making village in the foot of Lang Biang mountain
The traditional wine making village of Lach ethnic people, located at the foot of Lang Biang mountain, in Lat commune, Lac Duong town, Lam Dong, is about 12 km from the center of Dalat city. Not only it’s famous for its beautiful scenery, rich flora and fauna, but also a community of the ethnic people with a local cultural identity. One of the cultural values is Can Wine – a traditional wine, one of the spiritual products of indigenous people.
Wine making has been here for a long time. Over the years, the generations passed on the secret to retain the traditional profession of their people. Coming to the village and visiting the home of a family that makes Can wine, you will be impressed by the entrance by dozens of jars of wine neatly arranged, both for family use and for sale.
Can Wine is a familiar drink of the ethnic groups in the Central Highlands, but each place has different flavors depending on how fermented and brewed. The 3 main materials for making wine include rice yeast, rice and rice husk. The Lach ethnic group follows the matriarchy, the woman is considered the head of the family, so most of the women in the village know how to make Can wine and pass it on to their children and grandchildren. Can wine is usually only about 15 to 25 percent alcohol by volume so when you drink, it seems very light, but the more you drink, the more you will be absorbed and get drunk without knowing it. People here have a habit of drinking Can Wine at the same time eating smoked pork, pieces of meat are hanging on the fire for a few days.
For the Lach people, drinking Can wine also has its own regulations. When inviting a visitor to the house, the guest will be invited to put cane tube in the wine jar, rotate three times and then give it to the host to enjoy first, which shows the host’s hospitality to the visitor and respectation’s visitor to the host. On festivals, carnavals, the Lach people celebrate and drink Can wine all day long, sometimes up to several consecutive days.
Visiting the village, visitors can also enjoy performances of Gongs – traditional musical instruments of the Central Highlands, visit and admire the traditional houses of the Lach people. The Lach’s house is designed in a triangle, simple but very solid.
The locals here are very friendly and sincere, coming to the village you can visit any house to have a conversation and have a simple meal with the family, thereby learning and keeping memories about life and traditional culture of this ethnic people.
11.Salt making village in Bao Thuan
Bao Thuan is a commune in Ba Tri district, Ben Tre province, 130km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Bao Thuan is a traditional salt making commune that has existed for nearly one hundred years. A day of experience with salt farmers will surely makes those who get itchy feet satisfied and brings countless memorable emotions.
Salt making is a very hard job when salt craftman have to work under the sun and the wind, while the quality and productivity of salt are very dependent on the weather. Currently, almost all the salt farmers in Ben Tre province still make salt by the traditional manual method. The first thing to make salt is to level the ground, reinforce the embankment. Next, wait for the tide to come up and people use machines to put water into the fields and then discart salt. If the weather is favorable, after about 2 days they can harvest salt.
The white salts glistening in the blazing sun is both fun for salt farmers and inspiration for any photographer.
To have continuous salt production, salt farmers cultivate alternating plots of salt fields. Therefore, salt is harvested every day. However, the salt quality is not high, mainly raw salt used for industrial production such as marinating seafood, processing fish sauce … Normally, Bao Thuan people make salt for about 4-5 months, the remaining time the weather is unfavorable.
Coming to Bao Thuan salt making field, the travel lover can not help enjoying the wind, the sun, the salty taste of the sea and the land. The salt making experience with farmers will bring you new feelings and understand the traditional work here.
If you love to go off the beaten track when travelling, this destination is not a bad option. What are you waiting for? Let’s get backpack and start your jouney now.
12.Bau Truc pottery village
Bau Truc pottery village is situated along the National Rout 1A, in Phuoc Dan town, Ninh Phuoc district, far 10 km to the south from Phan Rang – Thap Cham city. This is one of the two oldest pottery villages in Southeast Asia.
Ninh Thuan is homeland of quite a number of Cham villages but only clay in Bau Truc village can make quality pottery products. Over 800 years of establishment and development since the time when King Po Klong Garai officially ruled Panduranga (Phan Rang) in the late 13th century, Bau Truc pottery products is a witness to recreate the hundreds of years of ethnic culture in this land.
Unlike ceramic products in other places, ceramic works made in Bau Truc are created by hand rather than using a turntable so they are not soft, smooth but rough and abrasive. The interesting thing is that the patterns on the pottery products are often shaped with familiar objects such as spoons, bottle caps, seashells, plants, nails …. But through the skillful hands of the worker, the patterns become attractive and vivid. After molding, pottery is combined with color and smoky when baked, the artisans create special color marks on each ceramic product such as red gold, red rose, black gray,…
The craft ancestor of Bau Truc pottery village is Poklong Chanh, so every year on the occasion of Kate festival, people set up temples, hold solemn sacrifices and pay tribute to the craft ancestors. To understand more about pottery of the Cham people in Bau Truc, travellers can also visit the exhibition in the central of the village.
A trip to the village of southern region to stroll, learn and observe the art of making pottery of the Cham ethnic minority people in Bau Truc will be a funny and relaxing experience.
13.Thom Rom net weaving village
Referring to Can Tho, people think of an area of rivers. Therefore, the boat and fishing tools are considered symbols of the people’s life here. Down on the Highway 91, in Tan Hung Ward, Thot Not Commune, Can Tho City, you will reach to Thom Rom Village, the grandest cast net making village of the Southwest region of Vietnam.
The village was formed more than 40 years ago from a group of migrants from the Central region of Vietnam to make a living. The peak season is in the flooding, from July to October of the lunar calendar, the village is crowded with people buying and selling. Thom Rom is highly appreciated for the quality and price of its products. Especially, the fishing net produced here is very reputable in the market, favored by the people in the region because of its high quality, beautiful, strong and durable designs, made by Hue style, which means there are floats making the net surface stretched to catch a lot of fish. The fishing tools are very flexible, easy to catch fish and adapt to such terrain as ditches, rivers, canals, lagoons…
At present, they do not only sell fishing nets but also produce many other fishing tools such as fish trap, rafters,…. In the village, there are 40 households being main production establishments and 200 households participating in processing. Products of the village are exported to many provinces in the region and neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
Net weaving technique is not difficult but requires ingenuity, so that from the old to the young in this village, everyone can weave to earn additional income.
Visiting the Thom Rom net weaving village, you will be immersed in the bustling life of the bustling working atmosphere in the peaceful southwest land.
14.Thuan Hung rice paper cake craft village
Thuan Hung rice paper cake craft village is located in Thot Not district, far about 40 km from the center of Can Tho city. Entering the village flat rice paper drying racks are placed neatly on both sides of the road.
Rice paper cake craft village has existed for more than 200 years and continues developping by generations. Rice paper cake made in Thuan Hung is very popular and famous in the market because the makers here has their own recipe in mixing flour, using entirely rice flour. Rice is also harvested in Thot Not area, rice must be kept for 6 months before making. Choosing carefully on such input materials, the cake do not only have a very strong aroma of aromatic rice, but also it’s soft, smooth and fragrant. Especially the cakes are well-proportioned thanks to the skillful hands of the makers. In order for the cake to dry out, the makers must see the weather if it is sunny to expose to the early sun.
Thuan Hung rice paper has 4 types: salty cake, crackers, spring rolls and coco cake. The salty cake is salty and limber, the crackers are crunchy, spring rolls is in small size, the coco cake is mixed with extraction of coconut and sesame.
Thuan Hung people often have to get up at 3-4 hours to start their work, and work until the afternoon. In Thuan Hung now there are 500 households making rice paper. They make rice paper for sale to neighboring provinces and even to Cambodia. Everyday, they can make 2000 pieces.
Thuan Hung is now not only a craft village but also a travel destination for those who want to learn more about the craft of rice paper making, explore local cuisine and the local life of people in the Southwest of Vietnam.
15.Sa Đec flower village
Going to Sa Dec district, Dong Thap province, 140 km to the southwest from Saigon, you will arrive at the 100-year-old Sa Dec flower village, one of the largest flower farms in the West.
Sa Dec is placed near the bank of the Tien River, a land all year round is fresh with wind and fertile with alluvium that help their people develop flower farming. Flower farming area is about 600 hectares, this farm annually supplies about 3 million flower baskets throughout the country. The best flowering season is in the 12th lunar month. However, on the normal days of flower growing works and flowers display here are also quite continuous to serve visitors.
Until now, there are more than 2000 families growing flowers as main job. More than 1000 species of flowers are planted here. When coming to Sa Dec flower village, you do not only enjoy flowers beauty, but also hear about the origin, characteristics and interesting storie and legends about the flowers planted. In addition to very simple and familiar plants such as star fruit, areca, fig,… Sa Dec is also well-known of its ornamental plants with rare species that have been hundreds of years old, through meticulous hands and the talent of artisans, they become ornamental plants with beautiful and unique shapes. Therefore, this place has become a familiar place for connoisseurs of ornamental flowers.
Flower growers are not only hardworking, but also very meticulous and skillful to let flowers bloom at the right time. Flowers are grown with passion,packed with care and sent with love. They have to stay up late, get up early to take care of the flowers. Visiting Se Dec flower village, you should not miss the opportunity to experience the daily life and enrich your knowleadge about planting technique from “artisan growers”.
Each village has special interesting things that any visitor will find a lot of fun and local experiences that are hard to find elsewhere. If you are a travelholic and enthusiast of local experience, do not hesitate to plan your upcoming trips with the above suggestions. If you need to find a local knowledgeable companion, Xin chao Tours will be happy and always available to listen to you and help you find and take you to those local experiences by the easiest way.