Bac Son Town nestles in the heart of a valley formed by large limestone mountains.
It is an arresting sight at any time of the year, but adds spectacularly to its charms during the harvest season.
160 kilometers north of Hanoi, the place is also blessed with climatic conditions that allow farmers to cultivate two rice crops a year and these are harvested in July and November.
The valley becomes a yellow vastness with hints of green and other tints as July approaches. Since all fields are not harvested at the same time, other colors like green and rusty brown and black weave themselves into the yellow tapestry.
Needless to say, a two-day trip to Bac Son at this time would be an unforgettable experience.
Here’s a guide for the 2-day trip to Bac Son:
Buses to Lang Son Province leave frequently from the My Dinh, Gia Lam, Nuoc Ngam, Giap Bat bus stations in Hanoi. Ticket prices range from VND100,000 – 200,000 ($4-9). From the Lang Son bus station, take a taxi to Bac Son valley for VND500,000 ($20).
Of course, there are trekkers and photographers who drive their motorbikes or cars all the way from Hanoi via Nhat Tan bridge – Highway 3 – Thai Nguyen, turning right at Highway 1B and driving for another 75 kilometers more to reach the destination.
You can look for hostels or homestays near the foot of the Na Lay mountain, in Quynh Son village for VND90,000 – 200,000 ($3-8) per night. To save time moving down the mountain, you can camp overnight on top of the mountain. Remember to bring tents, canvas, food, blankets, flashlights, lighters, etc.
Since Bac Son is not too far from Hanoi, a two-day-one-night tour fits a weekend nicely.
Day 1: Visit Quynh Son Village on the way to Bac Son, climbing the Na Lay Mountain for sunset and night sky views.
Day 2: Enjoy dawn on Na Lay, swim in the Dang Mo waterfall before returning to Hanoi.
• Take a thin jacket along for temperatures may drop early in the morning and at night.
• You should wear good climbing shoes.
• Mosquito repellents, insect repellants and sunscreens will be really useful.
• You can take some fast food, snacks or lightweight cooking utensils to cook along the way.
• If you are driving a motorbike to Bac Son, take a basic motorcycle repair kit, motor patch, spare tire, mini pump, etc.
Traveling to Bac Son from Hanoi takes 3.5 – 4 hours. If you depart early in the morning, you can arrive at Bac Son at noon, after having lunch on the way and visiting Quynh Son Village. There are many local specialties to enjoy, like black rice cake, wormwood cake, purple sticky rice and stream fish.
Quynh Son Village has become a cultural tourism destination since 2010. It can accommodate hundreds of visitors. The village, with hundreds of stilted roofs facing the south, spacious living spaces and natural harmony developed by the Tay ethnic minority is something that has to be seen and experienced.
After a walk in Quynh Son Village, you may take on something more adventurous by climbing the Na Lay Mount at 600 meter altitude. This is the perfect place to capture the magnificient yellow seasons of rice fields. The steep trekking route mixed with stone steps and earthy hang may seemingly discourage climbers, but it is only a 30 to 60 minute climb.
The Na Lay Peak has a mobile broadcasting station which creates a flat space for people to comfortably get a panoramic view of the Bac Son Valley with its rice fields. If you want to camp there, get permission from the station staff first. Overnight camping, eating food that you cook yourself with friends and spending time together under a starry sky in a special treat that Bac Son offers.
The stunning sight of yellow, ripened rice fields as a cool breeze caresses you makes every morning in this valley a special one. Photographers cannot stop clicking away. Getting up very early and watching the sun rise up from behind the mountains is another enthralling sight.
Besides the sunset and the sparkling night in Na Lay, the most awaited moment is the dawn and the sea of clouds floating over the Bac Son Valley. This sight is not a given, of course. You have to get lucky. If you go to Bac Son soon after a heavy downpour, you will see a heavenly spectacle.
After sunrise, you can go down the mountain, eat breakfast in the village, and then enjoy a picnic at the Dang Mo waterfall in Gia Binh District (Lang Son), 20 kilometers from the center of Bac Son. The place can be crowded at weekend with locals, photographers or outdoor picnic groups. Just do it, anyway.