Travel to Quang Ninh, everyone will mention the famous Ha Long Bay, however, this place also has another tourist destination, which is very interesting and attractive to tourists because of its charming scenery, along with many beautiful scenery and experiential activities. It is Binh Lieu, a beautiful, pristine mountainous district in the northeast of Quang Ninh province.
Known as “Little Sapa of Quang Ninh province”, Binh Lieu is 108 km from Ha Long city, and has a 43 km long border with China. Another ideal place for those who like to travel to experience and explore when coming to Vietnam. Binh Lieu impresses with fields of white reed grass, poetic terraced fields interspersed with majestic and pristine mountains and waterfalls. Not only beautiful scenery, with 95% of the population being ethnic minorities such as Tay, Dao, San Chi, you will have the opportunity to discover the historical tradition here, a very unique culture of Vietnam.
WHEN TO GO?
As a village in the high mountains, the climate in Binh Lieu is very mild, quite different from the general climate of Quang Ninh province. Binh Lieu's four seasons all year round bring a distinct color. So that you can come experience and explore this place any time. If you like to explore majestic waterfalls, swim and immerse yourself in the cool water, coming to Binh Lieu in the summer is the ideal choice. The fresh, cool, and pure water of the waterfall brings both pleasure to swimming and is really good for health.
The climate in Binh Lieu is mild with high mountain character
If you like to join highland festivals and discover the national culture, choose the period from February to April. This is the time when festivals with bold "love markets" take place such as the festival of Luc Na communal house, Soong Co love song festival, love market festival, etc. The time of summer and autumn is the seasons of flower fields, ripe golden terraced fields. In winter, the temperature in Binh Lieu is low and there is a possibility of snow and ice.
SEE AND DO
Majestic and adventures mountain roads
One of the indispensable experiences for those who like the feeling of adventure is biking on dangerous and challenging roads. These routes are surrounded by the immense, majestic and beautiful mountains and beautiful reed meadows. Biking experience will bring you feeling both excited and peaceful. However, you should pay attention to safety when going through this dangerous road.
Majestic and dangerous mountain roads - Source: Collective
Dinosaur spine trail and the border pole 1305
A famous place, very suitable for trekking trips that "adventures" cannot ignore, that’s “Dinosaur spine trail” , which is the way to the landmark 1305. This is one of the two landmarks located at the highest position on the field of Quang Ninh, also a place that is not easy to touch because of the dangerous road. Now, people have built more concrete railings to ensure the safety of visitors. Prepare a healthy and fresh spirit to be able to conquer this path!
The road “Dinosaur spine trail” to the landmark 1305
In addition, you should not miss the camping experience on the top of the mountain! There is nothing more wonderful than a morning waking up on the top of the highest mountain, admiring the magnifique nature, immersing in the cool fresh air and enjoying a hot cup of tea. The feeling of conquering nature is amazing!
A young man conquers the “Dinosaur spine trail”
Khe Van Waterfall
Binh Lieu captivates you by its majestic mountains and treacherous roads, but let's not miss the waterfalls here. Khe Van Waterfall is about 100m high, pouring down white among the trees, squeezing into the cliffs. The waterfall is located in the middle of a primeval forest, with a cool stream, creating a feeling of relaxation for each visitor to bathe with a natural stream and fresh air.
The majestic view of Khe Van Waterfall
CULTURE AND ART
The fair is a unique cultural feature of Binh Lieu as well as of the northern mountainous region in Vietnam. The upland market that has existed for a long time takes place in the center of Binh Lieu district. This is not only a place to exchange goods but also a meeting location and cultural exchange of ethnic communities such as Tay, Dao, San Chi, Kinh,... Every Sunday, Binh Lieu market becomes more bustling and boisterous than ever. In the market, visitors can admire the colorful and unique costumes of the ethnic groups.The main traded goods are poultry, local agricultural products and medicinal herbs which local people raise and grow or collect from the forest.
Binh Lieu Market - Source: Collective
Another unique market located in Binh Lieu district is Dong Van market. Although the scale is not as large as Binh Lieu market in the center of the district, it is no less attractive and bustling. When travelling there, you can fully experience the daily life of the Dao Phan ethnic group.
Dong Van market - Source: Collective
Held every Saturday, the market is always filled with the red color of traditional costumes. Dao Phan’s headdress will especially make a deep impression on you. Walking along Dong Van market, you will come across many shops selling traditional costumes of the Dao Phan people. Dao Phan women sew and embroider their own traditional costumes as a beauty that is preserved and passed on to the next generation. The costume of the Dao Phan woman is quite sophisticated, including pants, shirt, headdress and belt. Patterns embroidered on it reflect the cultural life of the ethnic people such as the harrow used for rice cultivation, cowpea flower, ginseng flower or terraced fields.
Brilliant traditional costumes of Dao Phan people - Source: Collective
Right from early morning, the markets are crowded with many people going in and out. People's chatter and children’s laughter are mixed with the singing of boys and girls. This market scene imbued with the traditional culture of the border mountains of the country make you more cheerful and full of life.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
As the home to 5 main ethnic groups, Binh Lieu is mentioned as a locality with many attractive festivals reflecting traditional culture and values. Each spring, Binh Lieu district organizes the Luc Na festival. This is a cultural beauty to commemorate the village god Hoang Can who had the merit of repelling the invaders from the North. The festival takes place for three consecutive days from the 16th day of the first lunar month every year. The Luc Na festival is a cultural rendezvous in early spring to organize traditional folk activities of ethnic groups such as Tay, Dao, San Chi, Kinh, Hoa. The festival is also an opportunity for ethnic minorities to pray for good health, luck and abundant crops in the new year.
Luc Na festival in Binh Lieu - Source: Collective
Soong Co singing festival is the biggest festival of the San Chi ethnic group that attracts a lot of local people and visitors. Soong Co singing is a reciprocal singing style of couples or singing groups. Thanks to the meaningful lyrics, young people can learn from each other; couples can express their feelings and adult people can teach their children life lessons. Held from March 15 to 16 of the lunar calendar every year, the festival takes place in many unique cultural art and sports activities.
The Soong Co singing festival - Source: Bao Quang Ninh
When participating in this festival, you will be surprised by the image of women wearing makeup, wearing their traditional dresses or costumes to play football. It is the Women's Football Tournament that is indispensable in the festivals of the San Chi people. They played like real players before the cheers of local people and tourists. The strong kicks have given watchers a good and exciting football match.
The San Chi women playing football
FOOD AND DRINK
Pho xao (Stir-fry noodle) is a rustic dish that has become a unique culinary culture in Binh Lieu district. Pho xao Binh Lieu has a different taste from Pho xao elsewhere because the ingredients for making noodles are the most delicious, fragrant and flexible Bao Thai rice grown on terraced fields. Noodles are sliced and fried on the stove with fried onions and garlic, pork, soy sauce and chopped vegetables. You will be really attracted by the aroma of the ingredients blended together. When you visit Dong Van market, don't forget to enjoy the fried pho there.
Pho xao Binh Lieu
Another famous specialty of Binh Lieu is five colors sticky rice. By combining sticky rice and different leaves, the Tay people in Binh Lieu create at least 5 eye-catching colors. The interesting thing is that 5 colors form a whole symbolizing the yin and yang of the five elements for the solidarity of ethnic groups. Those who have the opportunity to enjoy this sticky rice dish have the same feeling and unforgettable impression not only by the fragrant plasticity from the glutinous rice but also by its color blend.
Five colors sticky rice in Binh Lieu - Source: Halong Tourism
Written by Lan Anh and Thu Ha, Assistant Manager for Mr Linh’s Adventures