Standing on the highland of Northern Vietnam, Lang Son appears to be an off-the-beaten-path place. However, with its long history dated back to the Bronze Age and being a bustling trading area between Vietnam and China in the past, Lang Son will impress you with its impressive background and impressive mountain landscapes. Our Lang Son travel guide will give you a few glimpses about how to go, what to eat, and what to do in Lang Son, Vietnam.
Quick Notes about Lang Son Travel Guide
- Lang Son is a mountainous province located in Northeast Vietnam, bordering Guangxi Province in China
- Places to visit in Lang Son: Bac Son Valley, Tam Thanh Pagoda, To Thi Mountain, Ai Chi Lang, Mac Dynasty Wall
- Read on for the best time to travel, what to bring on your Lang Son travel, how to get to Lang Son, what to do and eat on your Lang Son travel
Best Time to Visit Lang Son
- Winter: best time to see the beautiful snow on Mount. Mau Son
- January of the Lunar Calendar, to participate in special festivals of ethnic groups (e.g. Tam Thanh Pagoda festival, Ky Don artillery festival), but there’s a chance of hail storms during this time
- July – November: ideal for witnessing the graceful allure of ripe rice fields in Bac Son
Lang Son’s weather on summer days is lovely and calm
Packing for Lang Son Travel:
- Winter clothes: the temperatures during winters in Lang Son can drop to below freezing, so it’s vital to stay warm. In case you have a hard time finding quality warm garments in a tropical country, we’d recommend shopping online!
- Trekking gears: Lang Son terrains consist of small hills and steep roads, and when the weather is nice enough, put your trekking clothes on and explore.
- Travel-size first-aid kit (a smart traveler’s must-have)
- Mosquitoes repellent
- Sunscreen (sunlight in the mountainous area can be a bit too harsh)
- Travel insurance: (get your quote below)
How to Travel to Lang Son
Most people go from Hanoi to Lang Son City – the administrative center of Lang Son Province. To cover this 150-km distance, most visitors would opt for a train or a passenger bus, but some adventurous travelers can also set on a motorbike trip or a car road trip from Hanoi to Lang Son.
Catch a Bus/Train for Your Lang Son Travel
A local bus or train is always an ideal choice for budget-travelers. For a ticket costing around VND 150,000, you will get from Hanoi to Lang Son in 3 – 4 hours.
- Buses from Hanoi to Lang Son:
Ticket price: VND 150,000 – 250,000 depending on bus lines
Departure stations: My Dinh Bus Station, Gia Lam Bus Station, Luong Yen Bus Station
- Trains from Hanoi to Lang Son:
Ticket price: VND 70,000 – 150,000 depending on types of seat
The easiest way to find cheap tickets and plan your itinerary accordingly is to pre-book your bus or tickets online. It is the scam-free, stress-free, with no language barriers whatsoever. Look for your tickets below:
Note: do be mindful of your belongings when traveling by public transportations and make sure to be at the stations at least 15 minutes before departure, or they will not wait for you if you miss the ride.
Rent a Motorbike/Car for Your Lang Son Travel
Once choosing these vehicles, you will have your private space and be flexible with your time. Thus, take advantage of these cons by dropping by breathtaking spots along the road and picturing them.
The route from Hanoi to Lang Son is not too challenging as the road’s quality is quite modern, and it’ll most likely take just under 3 hours to complete – which is ideal for a day trip. Nonetheless, the magnificent landscapes can still give you the one-of-a-lifetime thrills.
- For more convenience, ask the receptionist at your hotel in Hanoi to help you rent a motorbike or a car. They can also help you book a personal driver if needed.
- Read our precautions on riding motorbikes
- Check the vehicle carefully before renting (brakes, lights, mirrors, etc.)
- Make sure the fuel tank is always filled. It is not easy to find a petrol station on the road
- Note down emergency numbers in case of unfortunate incidents
Where to Stay in Lang Son
Being a remote area doesn’t mean Lang Son tourist facilities cannot cater to everyone’s needs and wants. There are a variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury to cost-effective lodgements to offer a comfortable rest on your Lang Son travel.
Muong Thanh Luxury Hotel is a long-established brand with modern amenities (see here for the best price)
Vinpearl Hotel provides with world-class services (see here for the best price)
Duong Cong Chich Homestay with a cozy atmosphere (see here for the best price)
One major perk of staying at a homestay is the appetizing homemade meals
See our suggestions for Where to Stay in Lang Son or look for your favorite hotel below:
What to Do in Lang Son
Though this province is yet to be a hotspot in the tourist map, you should not have a hard time figuring out what to do in Lang Son. This history-rich and culture-filled land can effortlessly leave you amazed and wanting to discover more.
Explore Tam Thanh Pagoda
Tam Thanh Pagoda is a part of the national Nhi – Tam Thanh relic, which includes Tam Thanh Pagoda, To Thi Mountain, and the Mac Citadel.
The front gate of Tam Thanh Pagoda resembles the typical structures of Vietnamese Buddhist pagodas after modern renovations, but don’t be deceived so easily. The deeper you venture into the pagoda, the more you are captivated by the spiritual ambiance. The original structure lies inside an ancient cave with natural stalactites formed in the surroundings. Take your time to pay respect to the local’s sacred haven and learn about the priceless artifacts within the cave.
Not far from the Tam Thanh Cave is the Nhi Thanh Cave where lies a large amount of testimony from Vietnam’s feudal scholars.
Note: Since this is a religious site, don’t wear too flashy or revealing outfits (not sleeveless shirts or shorts), and ask the locals (or look at the locals) to see if it’s possible to take pictures
Conquer To Thi Mountain
The To Thi Mountain, or Vong Phu Mountain (meaning “longing for the return of the husband”) earns its name thanks to the celestial stone statue resembling a woman hugging her child, waiting for her husband to come home. Locals consider this figure to be of Ms. To Thi – a character with great virtues in Vietnamese folklore.
The natural stone formation collapsed in 1991 and was renovated with cement later on to honor the faithfulness virtue of the Vietnamese women.
The tales of the To Thi Mountain remains timeless
Uncover Vietnam History at Ai Chi Lang and the Mac Dynasty’s Citadel
Ai Chi Lang has witnessed many victories throughout Vietnam’s history. Due to the rugged terrain, the land used to be a barricade for Thang Long Imperial Citadel. In the feudal era, Ai Chi Lang contributed a vital part in defending against invaders from the North.
The Mac’s Citadel used to be a military monument built in the sixteenth century. The architectural site is somewhat similar to the Great Wall in China, with stone walls running alongside the cliffs of mountains.
How to visit the Nhi – Tam Thanh relic: all of the attractions of the relic site lie on hills and hidden in rows of tall trees, and the roads are narrow, empty, and can be quite slippery in rainy seasons. It is best to prepare your trekking outfits when visiting the site.
Discover The Life of Ethnic Minorities
Apart from the Kinh people (or Viet), Lang Son is also where the Tay, Nung, and Dao people reside. While transferring from one spot to another, you will encounter ethnic minorities wearing eye-catching brocade clothes. In case you are traveling at the weekend, there is a high chance that you will see their colorful weekend markets where locals trade all sorts of things from necessities to cattle like goats or oxen.
Admire Lang Son from the Phai Ve Flagpole
Though Phai Ve Flagpole was built recently, it is one of the most remarkable sites in Lang Son City. You will need to complete the 500 plus steps to reach the flag pole placed in the mountain peak, and get to rewarded with a panoramic view of the townscape.
Phai Ve Flagpole is located right in the heart of Lang Son City
Shopping at Local Markets
It is not exaggerating to say that local markets are where you can learn most about local culture. Once coming to Lang Son, don’t miss the chance to discover some “cultural hubs” namely:
Dong Kinh Market is always bustling, so be careful of snatch thieves!
Ky Lua Night Market: sells mostly cheap Chinese products, and is where you can indulge in local nighttime snacks
Tan Thanh Market lies near the border with China
Have a Photoshoot at Bac Son Valley
Bac Son is a fertile valley with fanciful colors and stunning sceneries. In the ripe rice season, the valley becomes more captivating with its paddy fields turning into the “golden sea”. Besides, Bac Son valley has endless flower fields that promise a wonderful check-in spot.
Bac Son Valley from above
What to Eat in Your Lang Son Travel
Pho Chua (Sour Rice Noodles)
A bowl of Pho Chua can break the stereotypical versions of Pho that is in a hot bowl of soup. The sour version, though retain the signature flat rice noodles and beef or chicken, is actually not served with soup but with a sweet and sour sauce that weaves all of the ingredients together
Pho Chua usually has fried sweet potato, pork liver, sliced cucumbers, herbs – it is definitely more like a mixed rice noodles salad than a soup
Banh Cuon Trung (Egg Vietnamese Steamed Rice Roll)
Banh Cuon Trung is the most favorite breakfast of Lang Son villagers, which has an egg meticulously wrapped in the freshly-steamed batter along with minced meat and wood ear mushrooms
Nem Nuong Huu Lung (Huu Lung’s Vietnamese Grilled Sausage)
The main ingredient of this dish is raw meat. After being fermented for about 2 to 3 days, it is baked on the charcoal stove. People then enjoy it with clove leaves and sweet and sour sauce, creating a unique flavor of Lang Son cuisine.
Nem Nuong Huu Lung is usually wrapped in banana leaves before serving
Khau Nhuc (Chinese Braised Pork Belly)
A rustic dish that requires a lot of skills and dedication
The pork dish originates from China, but the Lang Son people have altered the ingredients to create a more Vietnamese taste while keeping the similar intricate cooking method (boiling, deep-frying, soaking, then steaming the pork!). Most people would serve the aromatic, super tender, and flavorful Khau Nhuc in big family gatherings or important holidays such as the new year.
What to Bring Home from Your Lang Son Travel
Mau Son Wine
Mau Son wine is made by the Dao people living on top of the Mau Son’s mountain. They use their traditional methods to distill the wine with more than 30 herbs manually.
Mau Son Wine is always put in a stylized bottle like this
Mau Son Peach
Mau Son peaches are notorious for its natural sweet taste, and you can find some at the local markets
Mau Son peach blossoms when bloom can create a pink wonderland on the Lang Son’s mountains
Summary of Lang Son Travel Guide
As a border area, Lang Son will not only welcome you with striking landscapes but also in cultural diversity, so don’t forget to make the most of your journey in both terms.
Need more travel tips? Let us know in the comment section!