Located a little more than an hour outside Hanoi, the village Duong Lam is an ideal place for a day trip from the capital. Duong Lam is a small cozy village, not much is happening here. So what makes it so special?
If you want to experience the traditional life and culture on your holiday in Vietnam Duong Lam is exactly the right place for this. The old village centre is very well preserved and even protected by the UNESCO. This little gem is a perfect example fort he traditional life which has been protected for the rapid changes in the Vietnamese society over the recent years. The village costs an entrance fee, however 1 Dollar hasn’t hurt any visitor so far.
On the way from Hanoi to Duong Lam the scenery changes a lot. You follow the Red River upstream, as soon as you have left Hanoi you see the typical landscape of North Vietnam: Small villages, occasionally a temple or pagoda and lush green rice fields as far as the eye can see. About 50 kilometers away from Hanoi you reach the town Son Tay, about 5 minutes later you arrive in Duong Lam.
The village is in the middle of green rice paddies, on the way tot he village gate you see an old temple in the fields, from the distance you can already spot the church tower oft he catholic church. You pass the village gate and walk up a small hill. Immediately you feel like in another world. At the first glance you see the difference between the City and this village. Houses are built in a traditional stile with beautiful tiled roofs. The narrow cobblestone alleys make it impossible for cars to drive in this village. Strolling through Duong Lam you feel like you just traveled 100 years in the past.
After a few minutes you reach the market place, the centre of the village. In the early morning and late evening you can see the villagers in the court of the local temple doing sports or meditating. During the time of harvest the court is also used to dry rice, corn or another products.
Taking a walk in Duong Lam you pass several houses with explanatory plaques from the UNESCO, which help you to understand more about what makes this place so special. In one of these protected houses lives Anh Hung. He is one oft he producers of soy sauce. It is a very special type of soy sauce for which the village is famous, it’s the most important product of Duong Lam. The sauce is stored in big clay jugs in the courts oft he houses, you can smell it in the whole village. At Anh Hung’s house you can also enjoy a delicious and traditional lunch.
Few minutes away from Anh Hung’s house is he catholic church of Duong Lam. Feel free to enter, you will always meet the bell ringer. In a village like this, of course the bells are still rung by hand. Proudly he will show you pictures of important Bishops on their visit in Vietnam. He has met them all in person. The Christian religion was brought to Vietnam by the French during the colonial time and plays an important role in Vietnam. With more than 10% oft he population being Christians they are the second biggest religious group following the Buddhists.
Around the village you will also find many things to explore. The countryside is wonderful green and perfect for a stroll or even a cycling tour. About two kilometers away from the village you find an old temple and some shade under a line of trees. Take a nap in one of the hammocks or enjoy a fresh sugar cane juice sold by an elderly woman. There’s no better place for a rest in the afternoon.
A day trip to Duong Lam offers you a huge insight into Vietnam’s traditional life and culture, it will refresh your body and your soul. It’s a great place for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Don’t miss out on this chance of traveling back in time only 50 Kilometers outside Hanoi.