When talking about Vietnam, international tourists often envision colourful local markets or the spectacular scenery of the remote regions of Sapa, Bac Ha or the Dong Van Rock Plateau, which have been made famous in recent years through a series of documentaries and feature films. Most visitors, however, are not aware that only a short drive from the centre of Hanoi exists a spectacular area known to Vietnamese people as a highly significant spiritual site – the sacred Ba Vi Mountain.
Here, on the highest of the three mountain peaks (Ba Vi), about 1,296 metres above sea level, you’ll find beautiful temples dedicated to worshipping Tan Vien, the highest ranking saint of the four immortals in the Vietnamese Pantheon. With spectacular scenery and lush countryside spreading out from the base of the mountain, the area used to be an attractive French hill station in the early 1940s complete with a Catholic Church and holiday villas. The hill station could not stand the war and destruction of time, however, and fell into ruins. In recent years, the area has inspired tourism authorities and developers in bringing back the good old days and, now part of the Ba Vi National Park, it has been declared a special national tourism site. Green resorts have been built around the mountain base along with a 5-star property, Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat.
Covering a large area, Ba Vi has a lot to offer. Within a 20-kilometre radius, visitors can find plenty of historical relics and craft villages. Recently, the special Ho Chi Minh memorial complex, K9, opened to share with visitors the journey of the late president’s remains since his death until the final settlement in the mausoleum in Hanoi. Nearby ethnic minority villages are also in the area. The Man Tapan (Dzao) now specialise in processing traditional herbs and medicines in Ba Vi Commune, the Muongs specialise in cultivating green tea in Ba Trai Commune and agricultural farms are open for tourists who want to experience traditional farming life.
At Diethelm Travel Vietnam, we have created half-day and full-day excursions to this area for clients staying at the city hotels or Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat, taping into the area’s rich potential for cultural and agricultural experience. Half-day tours include visits to the former Ba Vi hill station in the national park and either the ethnic Dzao village or Muong village. Full-day tours include agricultural experiences such as farming and fishing.
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