Lang Son is a province in Vietnam's northeastern region. It is endowed with karst mountains, beautiful rivers, picturesque landscapes, and many historical and cultural sites. If you are planning a trip there, this Lang Son, Vietnam travel guide will provide you with detailed information on the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, what to eat in Lang Son, and so on.
1. Introduction to Lang Son, Vietnam
1.1. Where is Lang Son, Vietnam?
Lang Son is in Northeast Vietnam and has two international border checkpoints with China: Tan Thanh and Huu Nghi. The capital of Lang Son, 500 meters above sea level, is on the left bank of Ky Cung River. Opposite the town and on the far side of the river is Ky Lua Market.
- Area: 8,310.2 square kilometers
- City: Lang Son city
- Districts: Bac Son, Binh Gia, Chi Lang, Cao Loc, Huu Lung, Loc Binh, Dinh Lap, Trang Dinh, Van Lang, Van Quan
1.2. When is the ideal time to visit Lang Son Province?
Lang Son has a tropical monsoon climate, with an annual average temperature of 21°C and annual precipitation ranging from 1200mm to 1600mm. As a result, you can visit Lang Son, Vietnam year round.
There are two peak tourism seasons in Lang Son, Vietnam. The more important season is from May to August, which coincides with pleasant cool weather.
The second peak season in Lang Son begins in mid-November when the rice is harvested. If you want to experience the ice and cold on Mau Son Mountain, which only happens once in a while, come here between late November and February.
For the rest of the year, Lang Son, Vietnam turns back to a calm and peaceful province.
2. How to get to Lang Son, Vietnam?
It is about 156 kilometers away from Hanoi to the Northeast and convenient roads have been built, so you can choose to travel to Lang Son, Vietnam in three ways:
- By train: The daily trains from Hanoi to Lang Son depart at 6 am, 11:07 am, and 5:07 pm, with fares ranging between 130,000VND and 150,000VND per person. Train travel can be a good option because it allows you to see the scenery along the way.
- By passenger bus: It is easy and convenient to take a passenger bus away from Hanoi to Lang Son, which takes about 3 hours and costs between 90,000VND and 200,000VND per person. You can go to My Dinh, Gia Lam, or Giap Bat bus station to buy a bus ticket.
- By private vehicles: You can go along the roads from Hanoi Old Quarter -> Chuong Duong bridge -> Nguyen Van Cu street -> Turn right onto national way 5 -> Turn left onto Thanh Tri bridge -> Phu Dong bridge -> National road no. 18 -> Bac Giang -> Lang Son, or go along National road no. 5 then turn onto National road no. 1A.
3. 7 Top-rated tourist attractions in Lang Son, Vietnam
Lang Son not only attracts tourists with the magnificent and beautiful natural landscape that nature has given to this land but also with its many historical and cultural sites. Here are some of the most well-known tourist attractions in Lang Son, Vietnam that you should not miss:
3.1. Tam Thanh Pagoda
Tam Thanh Pagoda is a well-known pagoda cave and a sacred place for Buddhists to pray. It was constructed in 1777 by a Vietnamese mandarin. Tam Thanh Pagoda has many cultural values and, in particular, many valuable artifacts. For example, there is a white Amitabha statue over 2 meters tall, modeled after the structural design of the Le – Mac Dynasty from the 16th to the 17th centuries.
If you visit the pagoda on the 1st or 15th day of the first lunar month of the year, you can take part in the traditional local festival with special rituals and religious customs of Lang Son's populace.
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3.2. Chi Lang Pass
Chi Lang Pass is a well-known historical site that preserves the traces of many heroic historic victories of the nation over invading armies in 981, 1076, 1285, and 1427.
The pass, which stretches over 20 kilometers from Chi Lang Town to Mai Sao Commune in Chi Lang District, is surrounded by rugged mountains such as Cai Kinh and Thai Hoa. And it serves as a "shield" to protect the ancient Thang Long citadel from northern invaders.
In 1962, it was designated as a national historical site and then gained the status of a special national relic site in 2020. Its monumental scale makes Chi Lang pass a beautiful landmark in Lang Son, Vietnam that should not be missed out on.
3.3. Mac Dynasty Citadel
This is a military structural monument depicting Vietnam's feudal period. Mac Kinh Cung built the Mac Dynasty Citadel to fight the Le – Trinh Dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries. And this was the critical military base for stopping the only path that connects the north and south.
Nowadays, the remnants of the Mac Dynasty Citadel comprise two walls measuring roughly 300 meters in length and 1 meter in width. They were constructed from big stones and stand between two canyons.
After going up 100 steep steps from the bottom of the hill to the gate, you will see a panoramic view of Lang Son city with lush green rice paddies, rural villages, and many houses next to each other. The Mac citadel is a place worth visiting in Lang Son, Vietnam.
3.4. To Thi Mountain
To Thi Mountain is linked to the common lore of To Thi, a local woman. She climbed up to the top of the mountain, holding her baby to wait for her husband to return from the battlefield. Through the years, this location has become a place of worship for the locals.
To Thi Mountain has mountain peaks that surround a raised open ground in the center, making it look like a natural fortress. In the 16th century, the Mac family actually turned To Thi Mountain into a fortress by erecting a wall around it. When visiting the mountain today, you can still climb the rocks and follow the path of the former fortress.
To Thi Mountain may not appear to be all that tall, but going up all of the walkways will take you the entire afternoon. The rock is made of limestone and may easily crack; the sand on the walkway is slippery. If you intend to hike all the way, mind your step.
3.5. Lang Son Wind Cave
The Wind cave is in Sao Thuong Village, Sao Mai Commune, Chi Lang District. The cave impresses visitors with the wild and interesting beauty of natural stalactites of unique shapes, for example, shapes of animals, water lines, lotus flowers, inclined waterfalls, stone bells, stalagmites, stone columns…
Lang Son Wind Cave has a large-scale structure, including two main ground levels and one underground level. The total length of the cave is about 700 meters, the width is from 50 to 70 meters. The cave mouth is located halfway up the mountain, and the wind blows very hard there. Inside, the cave is quite dark but the relatively flat ground makes it easy to walk. The ceiling of the cave is high, wide, and airy which resembles a church dome.
Coming to the Wind Cave, you will feel lost in a fairyland. In front of your eyes are iridescent silvery rocks, or stalactites of all shapes.
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3.6. Bac Son Valley
This valley is a paradise for nature lovers, photographers, and adventurous travelers in Northeast Vietnam. The valley is located 80 kilometers away from Lang Son City and is surrounded by an endless limestone mountain range with the height ranging from 500 meters to 1200 meters.
The breathtaking Bac Son Valley, with its endless paddy fields, sloping rivers, lush green rice fields, and little stilt houses of the Tay and Nung ethnic groups one after the other. Residents still live in their traditional homes and earn a living by growing rice. When you come here, you can feel the heart-warming welcome of the locals, which makes you feel at home.
3.7. Mau Son Mountain
Mau Son mountain is 30 kilometers away from the city center. This is Southeast Asia's highest peak, surrounded by hundreds of lower mountains which make one of the most spectacular landscapes.
However, because of the height, travelers must be fit enough to reach it, especially in the winter when the temperature drops sharply and snow ice falls. When you overcome this challenge, you can see China and a panoramic view of mountains and villages from the top. This place is actually a wonderful place for nature lovers to enjoy fresh air, spectacular scenery, cool climate, and learn more about the Red Dzao ethnic group.
4. What to eat in Lang Son, Vietnam?
Lang Son, Vietnam is a perfect culinary paradise for foodies. There are lots of dishes to try, such as stewed pork belly, sour noodle soup, steamed rice paper roll with egg,...
4.1. Khau Nhuc (stewed pork belly)
Khau Nhuc, a traditional dish of the Tay and Nung ethnic groups, is essential when the locals treat their guests or on special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and longevity wishing ceremonies.
This dish requires complex processing, which takes half a day to prepare. The ingredients used to make Khau Nhuc include bacon, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear, minced lean meat, five-spice powder… Through the skillful hands of the people of Lang Son, a delicious, fragrant, soft, bite-sized dish has been created.
Many restaurants in Lang Son serve this well-known dish, including Minh Quang, Trung Xuan, and the food court at Dong Kinh Market...
4.2. Banh cuon trung (Steamed Rice Rolls)
This is a popular dish for both locals and tourists. Lang Son steamed rice roll is like Thanh Tri rolls or many other places in Northern Vietnam because it is a thin steamed layer of rice flour. The most noticeable difference is the core - a fresh chicken egg.
There are many preparation options with eggs depending on diners’ preferences. If diners want to eat a sunny-side-up egg, the seller will beat the eggs directly in the middle of the rice roll and then roll it. The egg yolk glides under an attractive thin layer of rice paper. In case diners love to eat traditional steamed rice rolls, the seller will stir the eggs with rice flour and mix in a thin layer of rice paper, add chopped meat, then steam them together. The steamed rice rolls will be yellow, sweet, and delicious.
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4.3. Pho Chua (Sour Rice Noodles)
Pho Chua has two main portions: dry portion and broth. The dry portion includes rice noodles, pan-fried pig liver, spring onion, deep-fried pork belly pig stomach, and roasted duck. The broth is partly made from the fluid inside roasted duck.
After everything has been prepared, the seller mixes them in such a skillful way that maintains a perfect ratio between soup and noodle so that the ingredients will absorb all the spice. Even though it is the last step, the mixing process is the most important.
Pho chua is served with shredded chicken, peanut, water morning glory, fried shallot, Vietnamese mint, chili sauce, and some unknown sauces that taste sweet, sour, and spicy.
There are many pho chua restaurants in the area, but the most famous and delicious Lang Son pho chua address is in That Khe Town, Trang Dinh District.
4.4. Nem Nuong Huu Lung
Nem Nuong Huu Lung is made from ingredients including fresh pork, pork skin, fine salt, powdered grilled rice, monosodium glutamate... All wrapped with many layers of banana leaves.
After wrapping for about 2 to 3 days, nem nuong will ferment and have a slightly sour taste, that is when we can eat it. Nem nuong is grilled on charcoal. Diners enjoy it with guava leaves, ming aralia leaves, fig tree leaves, and chili peppers. You will feel a sweet flavor that makes a specially delicious taste which cannot be mistaken for other dishes.
4.5. Coong Phu
This is a dish that only appears in winter on Lang Son. Coong Phu is made from glutinous rice flour. Each ball is flattened at the top, dotted with a little sesame. The filling of each Coong Phu ball is pureed mung beans mixed with granulated sugar.
When a diner comes to eat Coong Phu, the seller will drop the balls into a pot of sugar water. Wait for one to two minutes for the balls to rise to the top, then scoop the balls into the bowl, pour sugar water in, add a little ginger, copra, roasted peanuts, and banana essential oil or coconut milk.
On the cold winter days in Lang Son, Vietnam, there is nothing more satisfying than sitting and enjoying the pungent taste of the ginger, the sweetness of the sugar mixed with the softness and toughness of each ball of Coong Phu. It will be a memorable experience for every visitor who visits Lang Son on winter days.
5. What to buy as gifts for family and friends in Lang Son Province?
Lang Son has many delicious and attractive specialties, which are suitable for you to buy as gifts for family and friends. Recommendations are as follows:
5.1. Mau Son Wine
This is a rice wine that is traditionally made by the Dao people who mainly live in the mountainous areas of the province of Lang Son, Vietnam. This wine is distilled from cooked rice, spring water, and a specific type of yeast that is made from many herbs and plants. This wine is smooth and strong, yet not overpowering. And it has mellow herbal fragrances. Reference price: 100.000 VND/bottle.
5.2. Moc Mat
The leaves and fruits of the moc mat plant are indispensable spices for grilled dishes such as roasted duck and roasted pork. The fresh moc mat fruits have a sweet and sour taste. They are dried and used for the seasoning for braised meat and fish. Tourists coming here mostly choose moc mat to buy as a Lang Son specialty gift. Reference price: Ranging from 20,000 VND/bundle.
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5.3. Bac Son Tangerine
Thanks to the unique characteristics of its topography and soil, Bac Son has produced a tangerine with a delicious taste unlike those in any other region. The tangerine features thin peels, a yellowish color, and a sweet flavor. Its scent makes anyone who smells it want to enjoy it immediately. Reference price: Ranging from 25,000 - 35,000 VND/kilogram.
After exploring Thanh Hoa, consider visiting other prominent tourist destinations in Vietnam, such as Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, and Ha Long. Each destination provides a distinct and unforgettable travel experience filled with rich culture, natural beauty, and warm hospitality.
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We hope this travel guide will help you plan a pleasant and happy journey to Lang Son, Vietnam.