|Gate of Death Stream charms tourists with its pristine beauty. Photo Phượng Đi Đâu Facebook|
The idea of a trip to Suối Cửa Tử, or Gate of Death Stream, in the northern province of Thái Nguyên leaves people reluctant due to its terrifying name, but the waterway is an increasingly favoured destination for a number of adventure enthusiasts.
About a two-hour drive from Hà Nội, the stream boasts a poetic untouched feel, at odds with its frightening name. It lies within the territory of Hoàng Nông Commune, Thái Nguyên, passing through the commune before flowing into the Công River.
The stream is nestled in the forest and has seven waterfalls. The surrounding area has magnificent scenery of both high mountains and forests that still retain a pristine beauty, virtually untouched by man.
|The stream is nestled in the forest and has seven beautiful waterfalls. Photo Phượng Đi Đâu Facebook|
Many tourists have questioned why such a beautiful place has such an ominous name. After all, the Gate of Death is hardly the sort of place you want to take your grandkids to.
According to local legend, there was once a young couple in the village. The husband’s name was Núi (Mountain) and the wife’s was Ngàn (Forest). When the country was at war, the husband joined the army while the wife stayed at home weaving fabric and raising silkworm.
Unfortunately, the enemy came to the village one day, burning houses, destroying crops and slaughtering the people. The scared villagers fled to the mountains, but the enemy caught up with them. At this moment, there was a fierce battle and both sides suffered losses, including Ngàn and her parents. The forest and stream where the battle took place has been called the Gate of Death ever since.
The unique name is also one of the attractions here, arousing the curiosity of adventure tourists and thrill seekers.
Perfect for trekking
|it is recommended that trekkers should get help from local tour guides or porter in order to avoid getting lost or encountering dangers. Photo Phượng Đi Đâu Facebook|
Passing through pristine forests and large boulders, Cửa Tử is suitable for trekking.
The stream's seven waterfalls are named in numeral order from Cửa Tử 1 to Cửa Tử 7. To reach the first, tourists need to trek through the tea hills of Hoàng Nông Commune, the only entrance to the area. Upon arrival, Cửa Tử 1 appears as a long, deep pool of clear, cold water flowing between two rocky cliffs. The trek to the first waterfall is easy for anyone, whatever your fitness. After that, things get tougher.
|A tourist rows a boat at Gate of Death 1 Waterfall. Photo Phượng Đi Đâu Facebook|
Some popular activities here include camping and swimming by the waterfall.
"I spent the entire afternoon of my first day at Cửa Tử 1. I bathed in the waterfall and had a snack by the stream. When I started to head back at around 4pm, the sun began to set, casting a beautiful golden-orange hue over the immense tea hills. It was just stunning,” Nguyễn Hồng Minh, a tourist from Hà Nội, told toquoc.vn.
From Cửa Tử 2 onwards, the terrain becomes more challenging.
"The stream is peaceful, with transparent water flowing through the mountains. But the deeper you trek, the faster the water flows and the more slippery the rocks become," Minh said.
"Arriving at Cửa Tử 2, I saw a deep crystal water lake and a roaring waterfall right next to it. At that time, I thought it was easy to go further because I had a life jacket on. But I was petrified while standing on the cliff and looking down."
Between Cửa Tử 2 and Cửa Tử 3 is a natural rock slide, formed by water flowing over a long period of time, gradually eroding the rocks.
|A tourist bathes in the crystal clear water of Cửa Tử 3 waterfall. Photo Phượng Đi Đâu Facebook|
Minh said she spent the entire second day of her trip at Cửa Tử 2 and 3 - waterfall jumping, rock sliding and admiring the beautiful silver-white waterfall.
She said she was frightened at first, and it took her up to 15 minutes to take her first jump, with help from a tour guide who pushed her from behind.
“After falling down into the water and being able to swim and be immersed in the cool water below, I was overwhelmed with pleasure,” Minh said.
|Having lunch by the beautiful waterfall and in the deep forest is an enjoyable experience. Photo Phượng Đi Đâu Facebook|
At Cửa Tử 3, tourists can have lunch and drink coffee on the stone slab over the stream.
"Eating, resting, and listening to the sound of the stream and waterfall is extremely relaxing," Minh said.
To explore all seven Gate of Death waterfalls, tourists need time and endurance, as well as good physical fitness, combined with the support of safety equipment. When leaving, please remember to clean up all your litter, leaving the place as pristine as possible.
After trekking along the stream, tourists can rent a homestay nearby for rest and continue exploring the natural beauty of the whole area.
The perfect time for exploring the Gate of Death Stream is during summer and autumn, from May to November to avoid the rainy season and cold weather when the current is strong and has a high water level. Most tourists choose to trek and rest at the first waterfall. From the second waterfall onwards is for fitter and bolder types, and hiring local tour guides or porters are highly recommended to not get lost in the jungle's depths.
“As a destination that is not too far from Hà Nội, and the budget of around VNĐ2-3 million (US$85-130), or higher depending on the length of stay and whether a tour guide is hired, a trekking trip to the Gate of Death Stream is an experience well worth trying at least once in a lifetime, especially for those passionate about exploring nature,” Minh said. VNS