Trần Hoàng Nam
Spectacular scenery, a tranquil valley, magnificent waterfalls, ethnic minority groups and great terrain for mountain climbing can be found in Yên Thịnh Commune, Hữu Lũng District in the northern province of Lạng Sơn.
The site has attracted mountain climbers since 2012. — Photo alongwalker.com
Hoàng Thu Thảo from Lạng Sơn City could not hide her satisfaction after a trip to the area.
“We were impressed and will return here again,” she said.
“I love the tranquil valley here with ethnic minority stilt houses belonging to four different groups, where we experienced the local delicacies and lifestyle,” she added.
Joining a mountain climbing trip to Chùa Village, Yên Thịnh Commune, Takahashi Ichiro from Japan said he had climbed mountains across Việt Nam but this was the first time he had climbed in Yên Thịnh.
“The local nature is beautiful with lots of high karst mountains and magnificent caves, and the food is especially good,” he said. “I’m really happy with my trip.”
Thảo and Ichiro were two of the many tourists visiting the site, a new tourism destination located 21km to the north of Hữu Lũng District.
According to Hoàng Trung Tá, chairman of Yên Thịnh Commune, the area has nine villages with over 1,300 families with 4,200 people from the Kinh, Tày, Nùng and Dao ethnic groups.
A stilt house at the site, which offers homestay services. — Photo baodulich.net
The minority ethnic groups still live in traditional stilt houses with three or five rooms.
The commune received some 4,000 visitors each year, he said.
Local authorities have recently introduced some adventure sports and community-based tourism models in the commune.
The commune has installed more road and tourist information signs, and invested in mountain climbing facilities.
Five families taking part in the community-based tourism project have been given VNĐ30 million (US$1,300) to improve facilities and infrastructure to serve guests.
A training class for mountain climbings at the site. — Photo baodulich.net
In May, some 10,000 people in the commune received tourism training organised by the province’s tourism department.
The department has recognised the commune as a tourism destination.
“In the next few months, we will help the commune to enhance infrastructure and co-operate with travel agencies to develop tours to the commune with advertising,” said Khổng Hồng Minh, deputy head of Hữu Lũng District's Culture and Information Department.
The commune covers over 5,500ha with lots of culture and history events like the Trò Ngô Festival, Sơn Lộc Pagoda Festival and Am Chỉ Pagoda Festival (held on the 10th day of the first lunar month every two years to commemorate victory over Chinese invaders), which gather thousands of tourists every year.
A group of tourists takes a photo at the site. — Photo baodulich.net
The area is located near the famed Bắc Lệ Temple, Hữu Liên Ecological Tourism Site, Quỳnh Sơn Community Tourism Site and other sites in Bắc Sơn District.
It’s easy to get there as it is just 10km from National Highway 1A, close to the Hữu Liên Nature Reserve.
Two thirds of the commune is covered in karst mountains, making it ideal for mountain climbing.
Local mountain climbing routes were formed in around 2012, when local guides started guiding climbers and offering top-roping for the sheer faces.
Ninh Văn Xa, deputy head of the Tourism Management Division at Lạng Sơn Province’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said authorities could help combine the nearby Hữu Liên community-based tourism site, trekking routes, mountain climbing, local delicacies and culture as well as camping and horse-riding for tourists.
“The tour is an effective solution for preserving and developing natural resources and cultural heritage, while improving local living standards,” he said.
There are now eight mountain climbing spots in Chùa Village, Cầu Gạo Village, Làng Áng Village, Diễn Village and Đồng Tiến Village.
Mountain climbing in these villages has been exploited by a company called Vietclimb.
The company has installed more facilities for the sport and enlarged paths for trekking.
The company has also published climbing maps drawn up by foreign experts.
Xa said the commune had the potential to receive more tourists in the future.
In response, the province has offered training classes for tour guides and first aid skills to locals involved in the service. — VNS
Tourists climb a local karst mountain. — Photo alongwalker.com