|Threshing: Tourists take part in the harvest.— VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
By Đoàn Tùng
Love cycling? Keen on travelling? Eager to learn about ethnic groups?
A 100km cycling tour through the northern province of Cao Bằng may satisfy all these desires.
The Centre for Rural Economic Development (CRED) recently held an experimental bike tour linking Quảng Uyên and Trùng Khánh districts in Cao Bằng. Odf the 21 taking part, 18 were foreign professionals — and the rest Vietnamese.
“This is the first tour of the Việt Nam Responsible Tourism network in Cao Bằng Province," said Cao Đại Hùng, manager of a project titled Improving the Livelihood of Ethnic Minorities through Community-Based Tourism.
“Participants not only cycled but also interacted with locals, watching them make handicrafts and joining in the producing process,” he said.
|Donation: Tourists give pigs to needy families in Phia Thắp Village. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
The tour linked Phia Thắp incense making village, Dìa Trên paper making village and Lạn Dưới bamboo basket village stretching to Bản Giốc Water Falls and Pắc Rằng metal forging village.
Participants also tasted local dishes and spent nights at high-quality homestays developed by the project, Hùng said.
During the tour, the participants bought handicraft products to support crafts people and contributed VNĐ28,500,000 (US$1,267) to buy 51 pigs for needy households in Phia Thắp Village.
|Rural paths: Cyclists experience all sorts of roads and tracks. —VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
“Such activities directly support locals and change their awareness of community tourism, encourage them to join in the process of protecting natural resources and developing tourism in the communities,” Hùng said.
“I joined the tour because I wanted to know more about the beautiful landscapes, rare customs and traditions of ethnic groups in the north of Việt Nam,” said Onnei Wong, from Fiji Republic, “I found Cao Bằng a beautiful land with mountains embracing villages, clean and peaceful atmosphere.
“Handicraft villages are located near one another, so tourists don’t have to travel long to try local products,” he said.
|Bumpy: Travel on muddy roads is not easy. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
Vi Văn Bằng, a resident in Lạn Dưới Village could not hide his excitement when receiving guests.
“Welcoming the guests and guiding them how to make baskets from bamboo is fun,” he said, “Many of them are eager to learn.”
Spanish tourist Nacho Sevilla said that was his second cycling tour to the north of the country, the first time he joined a ride in Hoàng Su Phì District of Hà Giang Province. “It’s really beautiful, I really enjoy it,” he said.
|On tour: Cyclists pedal through the countryside. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
Participants in the recent tour also spent time collecting rubbish at Bản Giốc Water Falls.
Sầm Hải Bằng, deputy director of Cao Bằng Tourism Company, highly appreciated the project.
“Developing economy through tourism is a sustainable way, through which locals become highly aware of protecting the environment and traditional values,” he said.
The Improving the Livelihood of Ethnic Minorities through Community-Based Tourism project is sponsored by Helvetas Swiss Intercorporation, a development organisation, and carried out by the CRED.
|Happy days: Learning how to weave baskets at Lạn Dưới Village. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
The project has been implemented in four communes of Thông Nguyên, Nam Sơn, Hồ Thầu and Bản Luốc in Hoàng Su Phì of Hà Giang Province, and the two communes in Quảng Yên and Trùng Khánh districts in Cao Bằng Province from 2016-2019.
So far it has involved 10,000 people in the communities, who have benefited from tourism activities.
The project has also helped improve living environment, protect the environment and preserve cultural identities. — VNS