70 km from Ha Noi, Hoa Binh province is known as the cradle of the ancient Muong people and is home to many significant cultural features. Here are the 10 best places tourists should be sure to see when visiting the province.
1. Uncle Ho monument:
Uncle Ho monument is the first tourist attraction in Hoa Binh. Standing atop Tuong hill which is nearly 180m from sea water level, the monument seems to have witnessed national construction achievements made by provincial officials and people. At the monument site, one could see the panorama of the hydropower plant with the vast bed of Hoa Binh reservoir and the Da river which is running gently as a silk strip flowing downstream.
Construction of the monument was completed on January 8, 1997 – one year since its groundbreaking ceremony. It was inaugurated on the day marking the 67th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. It is as high as 18m, featuring the 13.5-m-tall body of the statue and the 4.5m high pedestal. The statue weighs nearly 400 tonnes, made of ultra-high and granite concrete made by the Institute of Building Materials.
The hill is called Tuong (elephant) as it looks like a prostrate giant elephant that uses its trunk to get water from the Da river. There are 79 rungs of ladder symbolising 79 springs throughout the life of the beloved leader of the nation who dedicated his life to national liberation, independence of the country, and happiness and prosperity of people.
The Uncle Ho monument was designed by sculptor Nguyen Vu An – a lecturer of the Ha Noi Architectural University. The architecture of the monument complex was commissioned by Russian architect Serebriansk. The monument meets the requirements of fine arts, landscape, architectural and cultural values of humanity.
The idea of building Uncle Ho’s monument on Hoa Binh hydropower plant came up after Uncle Ho visited the Party Committee and people of different ethnic groups in the province, during which he called on the Socialist Working Youth school in Yen Mong commune, Hoa Binh city. His visit came in the flooding season so that local people made a large raft to take him across the river. Standing on the raft, he pointed down the river and said: “After the country is united, we have to conquer this river to prevent floods and serve the interest of the people”. For such a reason, the image of Uncle Ho pointing his finger down to the river is expressed in the work.
2. The Hoa Binh hydropower plant:
Song Da is the largest branch of the Red River from Yunnan, China, there is a downstream delta – an area of dense population, where the Ha Noi capital is located. It is one of tourist attractions in Hoa Binh. Hoa Binh hydropower plant has a combination of rock dams, underground water to turbine, the traffic tunnels system, operating system, engineering systems…
Hoa Binh hydropower plant was built from 1979 to 1994 with 8 machines and provides 1920 MW- 1/3 the productivity of Vietnam. It is not only an important industrial construction but also an attractive sight for visitors. Many valuable items such as: Ho Chi Minh statue on Tuong hill with 18 metres height, the traditional area keeping letters, memorial Vietnamese and Soviet experts sacrifice to built hydropower projects. Along with the functions of social, economic, Hoa Binh hydroelectricity has become an exciting destination for visitors.
Besides, tourists will have the opportunity to visit the Museum. It includes 2 stories, displays artefacts about the process of building this construction. Outside the museum are the letters that are preserved in the stone block. After that, visitors go to the memorial of sacrificed people to build Hoa Binh hydropower plant. At the top of the memorial, it is a bronze bell. Below is a circular with 168 stone steles which recorded names of sacrificed people.
3. Mu waterfalls:
Mu waterfalls is a very interesting tourist attraction in Hoa Binh. Tu Do is a highland commune of Lac Son district, located in the core zone of Ngoc Son – Ngo Luong Nature Reserve, which has a beautiful natural landscape with rich ecosystems and diverse populations of organisms. In particular, in the last few years, the “magnet” has made a remarkable attraction for Tu Do commune, the famous beauty of Mu waterfalls.
The waterfall is located in Mu hamlet at an altitude of over 1,000 m in the first section of the majestic Truong Son range. In the summer from April to October, the water flow from the natural mother is so abundant, pure and strong, from upstream it is generously pouring down to form a beautiful white cascade.
Mr. Bui Chuan, the representative of the scenic management board of Mu waterfalls, says that on the peak days, the Management Board sold nearly 2,000 visiting tickets. This figure shows the strong attraction of Mu waterfalls. At the same time, it has posed the challenges that require the management agencies and specialised forces to continue improving the operational efficiency in order to preserve the attractive and untouched beauty of the waterfalls, making visitors happy with the travel product they are experiencing.
From April 2018, Mu waterfall has officially been exploited as a typical local community tourism product by Lac Son district. After investing in some essential items at the waterfall bathing area and collecting entrance tickets according to the regulations of 10,000 as a typical local community tourism product per person (free entrance fees for Tu Do commune residents, the children and youths under 15), the services here are initially meeting the needs of the visitors.
Coming to the scenic area of Mu waterfall, first of all visitors will enjoy the fresh air of nature, enjoying swimming in the cool water stream to dispel the muggy heat of summer. After taking a bath, resting right at the nearby shacks, visitors can enjoy the unique and well-cooked traditional dishes in the way of indigenous Muong ethnic people such as rock snails, stone crabs with garlic sauce, and fried fish with the leaves from piper sarmentosum, grilled mountainous chicken, steamed mixed vegetables, frogs braised with sour bamboo shoots and so on.
After a rustic specialty meal, visitors continue visiting Mu waterfall to have other interesting experiences such as learning about the culture, the customs, the habits, the living and working activities of the indigenous people; sleeping in the traditional stilt houses of Muong ethnic people in Lac Son; burning campfire, drinking jars of wine, dancing and singing with the public performance team of Tu Do commune in the flickering light of fire.
4. Thung Nai:
Thung Nai is an amazing tourist attraction in Hoa Binh. Thung Nai impresses anyone who sees it from the very first time with the harmonious combination of mountains, lakes and charming houses nestled in between the high hills.
Located in Cao Phong district, Hoa Binh province, just about 110km north-east of Ha Noi centre, Thung Nai is a popular destination for weekend retreat of both tourists and upper class Ha Noians who can afford the time and cost.
Once upon a time, Thung Nai was a great valley covered by the vast forest, which is home to numerous deer. Hence, the local people call it “Thung Nai” which means “the valley of deer”.
Since the 1980s when the Da river hydropower plant was constructed, Thung Nai has become a huge lake containing the water served for the operation of this hydropower plant. All initial surrounding high mountains become floating green islands and create poetic and magnificent scenery which can enchant any tourist. Thung Nai is called “the second Ha Long bay on land” in the North of Vietnam (the first position was taken by Tam Coc Bich Dong in Ninh Binh province).
5. Mai Chau:
Mai Chau is a captivating valley situated between tall mountains and filled with rice paddies, lush green forests and enchanting nature reserves. Visitors are able to admire the beauty of ban, plum, and peach flowers when they visit Mai Chau in March, April, October, November and December.
6. Thung Khe pass:
Thung Khe pass is a very interesting tourist attraction in Hoa Binh. Thung Khe pass is an impressive mountain pass in Mai Chau. You drive over this pass when you go to Mai Chau from Ha Noi and head towards Moc Chau. Many people who drive over this pass don’t know the name. This pass may not be as majestic as Tram Ton pass in Sapa and not as steep as Ma Pi Leng in Ha Giang province, but it is a very special ride.
Thung Khe pass is beautiful, but also very dangerous due to steep cliffs, rocks on the slopes and the many curves. It is also called White Rock Pass, because limestone slid down when the mountain pass was constructed, so that one part of the mountain pass is now completely white.
The part that is completely white is also close to the top of the mountain pass. You will find here a number of small restaurants and shops, with thatched roofs, a few tables, chairs and hot teapots ready for the guests who stop. These shops are close to the abyss and are also called the Thung Khe market. Buses from Ha Noi often stop here for something to eat and enjoy the view. It can be very chilly and when you are unlucky you are in the clouds so you don’t have a view. At the “market” you can buy food and things that come directly from the area.
The Thung Khe pass flagpole, also called the Mai Chau flagpole or Mai Chau viewpoint, is probably the highlight of the entire mountain pass. From here you have a great view over the Mai Chau valley, which you probably already saw on photos when you googled for Mai Chau. You can rest here and enjoy the stunning view over the valley.
7. Thac Bo cave:
It is quite convenient to travel to Thac Bo cave from Highway 6. You can follow the road Binh Thanh – Thung Nai, and then go about 20 minutes by waterway or you can leave from Bich Ha pier in Thai Thinh commune and travel to in about 1 hour by boat. Thac Bo is a famous tourist attraction in Hoa Binh.
Thac Bo cave is located in Ngoc pier on the northern slope, on the bank of the Da river. Bo waterfall was once called Van Bo waterfall, which was created by hundreds of large and small cliffs undulating like a huge elephant group in the middle of Da river. It has a legend that the temple worships Bo waterfall Princess of Dinh Thi Van – a Muong person, who helped Le Loi King manage the food and boats for the military force to overcome Bo waterfall and cross to Muong Le, Son La to pacify the Cat Han Pass Party. After she died, she usually made her epiphany to help people overcome the waterfall safely and bless hundreds of people in the area with favourable weather and climate. People living in the area set up a temple to worship her. Bo waterfall temple once belonged to Hao Trang commune, and after a lot of changes about administrative boundaries, it is now located between Thung Nai commune, Cao Phong district and Vay Nua commune, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province.
On the journey of visiting and worshipping the temple of Bo waterfall princess, tourists will continue to explore the Thac Bo Cave in the natural charming scene of Hoa Binh Lake. In the dry season, tourists who want to visit the cave have to go trekking about 100 stone steps from the foot of the mountain to the cave entrance. In the flooding season, visitors have to move from the boat to the floating house which is built on a bamboo raft, which runs about 50 metres to the cave entrance. From the entrance, tourists can overlook the majestic and romantic view of the mountain and forest, as well as exploit the beauty of the mysterious cave.
The cave is divided into three areas, the first one is outside the bottom of the cave, there are many stalactites in the tourist reception, and then the Buddha Worship place which is higher by about 5 metres. The arc cave area is quite large with fresh air. Besides the large altar worshipping the great Bodhisattva Buddha, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and the gods administer this area. The inside of the cave is composed of various stalactites by lime crust dropping droplets millions of years old, which shows the endless creativity of the majestic nature. The different shapes of the stalactites are like dragon carp, golden trees, silver trees, the sky, stone piano, Muong gong set to become a holy song of the sky piano.
8. Kim Boi hot spring:
Located in Kim Boi district, Hoa Binh province, Kim Boi hot spring is natural mineral hot spring and really good for human health with such useful purposes as drinking, bathing, soaking and also it can treat stomachache or blood pressure, etc.
With an area of 7 hectares, this is a rustic resort for those who want to put aside all the tensions and troubles of life, just to feel relaxed and comfortable when soaking themselves in Kim Boi Hot Spring.
According to some scientific tests, Kim Boi water resources can reach the required standard for quality. In fact, the Kim Boi mineral water is bottled for refreshment. It has almost the same compositions in comparison with famous foreign brands of mineral water in the world. Additionally, the heated water here can hold more dissolved solids and have a high mineral rate including calcium or lithium or radium. As a result, this water is considered as a highly effective therapy for rheumatism, intestinal diseases, stomachache, or high blood pressure, etc.
9. Lung Van:
Located at an altitude of 1200m above sea level, Lung Van Hoa Binh is considered as “The roof of Muong land”. Here, the haze covers all year round, so Lung Van is also known as the Cloud Valley, which attracts many backpacking tourists.
Lung Van is a commune of Tan Lac district, Hoa Binh province – the neighbour of ninh binh vietnam with an area of 21.5 km². Before 1956, Lung Van belonged to Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa province, and was later imported into Hoa Binh.
Lung Van is located at a height of 1200m and surrounded by Trau mountain, Po mountain, and Tien mountain. Because this valley is covered with clouds and mist all year round, local people here often call it with the more familiar name – “Cloud Valley”. Therefore, this is the ideal “cloud hunting” spot for backpacking travellers.
List of hosted hotels:
Sakura Hotel Hoa Binh.