(No.4, Vol.8,Aug-Sep Vietnam Heritage Magazine)
Bac Son Valley, Lang Son Province, October, 2014
Photos: Nguyen Anh Tuan
Located about 160km North of Hanoi, Bac Son is a small town in Lang Son Province, lying in a mesmerizingly scenic valley, embraced by green mountains and the soft band of a river that runs amid golden ripening paddy fields.
The time between July and November is the best to visit Bac Son. The whole valley is covered in the shining gold of ripening rice that is sure to take anybodyâ€™s breath away.
Towards the end of this period the valley is like an artistâ€™s pallet with gold patches of ripened rice, reddish patches of havested fields, and rare green patches of late ripening rice. Under the sun zig-zagging canals look like stripes of tin that bundle all this bursting colors together.
Bac Son rice fields are unique due to the surounding walls of rolling lime mountains that ripple to infinity. Dusk and dawn are the best times of the day to see sunrays penetrating those walls to animate the whole picture.
The best spot from which to photograph the area is Na Lay Peak at 600m above sea level. Almost all tourists who have come to Bac Son have stood here to capture the majestic panorama.
One should start climbing at 4 in the morning in order to capture cotton-like clouds wiping the pallete.
On the way back, one can visit the nearby community tourist center Quynh Son. It is a village of Tay ethnic people with wooden stilted houses built in the traditional style that blends well with the scene of the mountains, forests and rice fields.
From Hanoi one can reach Bac Son by the Thang Long Bridge â€“ Noi Bai â€“ Soc Son â€“ Thai Nguyen route or the Thanh Tri Bridge â€“ Huu Lung route. Both take about five hours.
Having arrived at Bac Son, ask for the way to Na Lay Peak. Cars can be left in a local house at the foot of the hill for about VND30,000 a night. Conditions should be negotiated before leaving the vehicle to avoid misunderstanding later.
It should not be hard to find a place to stay at night in Bac Son, as it is an attractive tourist destination of Lang Son Province. The price is around VND200,000 a room a night.
Alternatively, to make it easier to be ready on Na Lay Peak at dusk and dawn one can bring or hire a tent to set up right on the peak. Because there is a telephone signal transmission station here, be sure to get permission from the local authorities before you camp.