There are the many craft villages around Hanoi. Bat Trang,
specialising in the production of good quality pottery and
ceramics, Van Phuc, a silk weaving community, and Dong Ky,
famous for its carved mother-of-pearl, are three examples.
The range of products produced in craft villages is bewildering
– cane birdcages, fine silk, knives, rattan, cooking oil
and dozens more.
Mat, where many families are famous for their skill in breeding
snakes for medicinal purposes, food and ‘snake wine’ (popular
with Vietnamese men as a boost for virility), is one we avoid.
The snakes are collected indiscriminately from the wild by
peasants – a recent police raid discovered well over a hundred
snakes in the Red Book of endangered species from a single
larger villages have traditional temples, pagodas or communal
houses. Some have local customs and forms of artistic expression,
singing, dancing and so on. One village is known for its marionette
performances. If you’re interested, we’ll try to arrange a
demonstration or performance for you. It won’t be a polished
‘attraction’ designed for tourists – the local people will
provide something impromptu, and entirely authentic.
gentle cycle ride through some of the rarely-visited villages
near Hanoi is an agreeable way of encountering aspects of
the rural culture of the Red River Delta and meeting some
of its inhabitants. An excursion by car is more practical
for visiting the more distant communities in the next province.
The remains of the ancient citadel of Vietnam, Co Loa, are
to be found 18 km north of Hanoi. Built in the 2nd century
BC, little remains today, but the site would be attractive
for those interested in archaeology.
are many opportunities for day trips to places such as Mai
Chau (ethnic minority villages set in beautiful scenery),
Cuc Phuong (National Park), Tam Coc (boating through spectacular
scenery along a languid river), Haiphong (attractive city
centre and surrounding countryside) and Ha Tay Province (wide
variety of craft villages).
day trip to Ha Long Bay is possible, but doesn’t really do
it justice – an overnight stay on a boat is more rewarding.
Cat Ba Island and the northwest mountains take a minimum of
two days, but an excursion to Ba Be Lake needs at least three
coming to Vietnam for less than a couple of weeks often find
that being based in Hanoi with visits to Ha Long and/or the
northern mountains offers a more fulfilling experience of
Vietnam than attempting to cover the whole country.