Discover the enchanting allure of Lang Son in just a day! This hidden gem of a province, nestled in the northern reaches of Vietnam and bordering China, offers a thrilling adventure to its finest attractions. The majestic Chi Lang Pass, the breathtaking Phai Ve Mountain, and the busy Huu Nghi border gate must captivate it.
Let’s begin our journey at Chi Lang Pass, a constrained valley with the Thuong River gracefully meandering through its center and surrounded by towering mountains. This historical site witnessed remarkable triumphs against Chinese invaders during feudal times. Mat Quy Mountain, also known as the Devil’s Face Mountain, which proudly stands just 100 meters away from Chi Lang Pass, will fascinate you as you explore. Don’t let its name scare you off because the locals regard it as a guardian who ensures their peaceful existence. Don’t forget to visit the Chi Lang Museum to delve into the rich cultural history of this land.
Besides its legendary past, Chi Lang is renowned for its delectable sweetsop, also called custard apple. Local villagers harvest these succulent fruits from the mountains, which have a heightened sweetness and chewy texture, and transport them using pulley systems. If you’re lucky enough to visit between July and September, you’ll have the opportunity to savor these delightful treats.
Next, let’s venture to the Huu Nghi border gate, a bustling trading hub between Vietnam and China. Previously, crossing the border was a breeze, but due to the current circumstances, it’s best to admire this gateway from afar. However, you can still take a taxi to Pingxiang City in China’s Jiangxi Province, a short 15-kilometer ride away, to indulge in Chinese cuisine and soak up the local atmosphere.
Our next stop is the Mac Dynasty Citadel, an essential national historical relic. Nestled against To Thi Mountain, this citadel played a pivotal military role during the Le-Mac civil conflict. Constructed under the reign of King Mac Dang Dung in the late 16th century, it was completed in the mid-17th century. As you approach the entrance, be prepared to climb over 100 steps. Inside, you’ll discover the remnants of two 300-meter-long walls and a citadel front built with massive stone blocks, offering a panoramic view of Lang Son.
Deep within the heart of Lang Son Town lies the Tam Thanh Grotto, part of the Nhi-Tam Thanh relics and landscapes, along with To Thi Mountain and the Mac Dynasty Citadel. Inside the grotto stands Tam Thanh Pagoda, while Am Ty Lake calmly rests within its depths, providing cool and refreshing waters. Stalactites shimmer on the cave ceiling, forming intricate and lively images. Follow the pathway from the grotto to Lau Vong Thi Peak, where a stone sculpture of To Thi, holding her child and patiently awaiting her husband’s return from battle, stands. Don’t miss the poem by Ngo Thi Si depicting this touching scene, carved into the grotto wall. To complete your tour, visit the traditional stilt house of the Tay ethnic people.
Lastly, let’s explore Phai Ve Mountain, an archaeological wonder located at the heart of Lang Son Town. Ancient civilizations once called this mountain their home, and it played a strategic role during Vietnam’s struggles against French colonists and American invaders. This mountain resembles a magnificent bonsai landscape, a true masterpiece in the heart of the town. Climb the 535 steps along any of the four pathways to reach the pinnacle, where an 80-meter-tall flagpole proudly stands. From here, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking 360-degree view of Lang Son Town and the Ky Cung River weaving through its streets. Time your visit just right, around 5 to 6 p.m., to witness a glorious sunset and bid farewell to the day’s final rays of sunlight.
Ky Lua Night Market is a vibrant destination in Lang Son that you shouldn’t miss after dinner. Located in Hoang Van Thu Ward, this market is not only a place for trading goods but also a gathering spot for various ethnic communities in the region.
The market takes place on the 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, and 27th of every lunar month. On these days, people from different ethnic backgrounds, including women, men, and youth, flock to the market to shop, socialize, and even sing. You can find a wide range of products here, from household appliances and electronics to unique local specialties.
In October, Lang Son introduced pedestrian streets around Ky Lua, which are open from 6 p.m. until midnight every Friday and Saturday. Along these streets, such as Le Lai, Tran Quoc Toan, and Luong Van Tri, you can enjoy performances, traditional games, browse souvenir shops, and indulge in delicious street food.
*Food: Lang Son is known for its culinary culture and offers unique specialties such as roast duck, stewed pork, wormwood cake, sour pho (sour noodle), and Coong Phu cake. Here are some recommended eateries in Lang Son Town:
*Transportation: Lang Son is approximately 155 kilometers away from Hanoi, and it takes around three hours by car to reach there. If you’re departing from Hanoi, you can take a bus from either My Dinh Bus Station or Nuoc Ngam Bus Station. The ticket price ranges from VND100,000 ($4.3) to VND170,000 per person.
Another option is to travel by motorcycle. The route will lead you along National Route 1A and typically takes four to five hours, depending on your speed and traffic conditions. Taking the train is also possible, but less popular and convenient. You can purchase a train ticket from Hanoi Train Station to Dong Dang Station in Lang Son Province.
*Accommodation: If you’re looking for two to three-star hotels, consider these options: Hoang Duong Hotel at 202 Phai Ve Street, Vi’s Boutique at 185 Tran Dang Ninh Street, and Song Long at 122 Ly Thuong Kiet Street. The rates start at VND300,000 to VND600,000 per night.
For a more luxurious stay, Lang Son offers four to five-star hotels such as Muong Thanh Hotel at 68 Ngo Quyen Street and Vinpearl Hotel at 27 Tran Hung Dao Street. The nightly rates for these hotels range from VND750,000 to VND1.5 million.
Embark on this unforgettable journey through Lang Son’s charms in just one day, and let the beauty of this province leave an indelible mark on your soul.