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Old French dwellings a base for Ba Vi to grow



Spread out over more than 10,000ha, Ba Vi National Park, which is 60km to the west of Hanoi’s city centre, offers amazing biodiversity, luxurious and eco-friendly tourist resorts, a selection of mysterious French architecture, and so much more.

Some 200 relics of French colonial buildings from a century ago have now become wonders for trekkers to discover.

Old French dwellings a base for Ba Vi to grow

Gateway to Ba Vi National Park

Tree roots engulfing the ruined architecture creates a mystical scene. Some parts of the buildings remain intact, revealing the French architectural style in their stairs, floors, pillars, and walls.

While many villas and mansions of French officials were destroyed during wartime, many have been preserved and are interesting detours for visitors.

From Height 600m to Height 700m, a buggy tour delivers tourists to French relics hidden deep inside the jungle, including a church, a cannon emplacement, a ladies’ camp, a mansion of an army colonel, and other villas scattered nearby the modern Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat, which was built on the foundations of an old French resort.

The Melia has a unique location amid the natural beauty of Ba Vi Mountain Range, blending a perfect fusion of French colonial architecture and the traditional architecture of Vietnam’s northern region.

Trekkers can discover various routes through the forests, such as the one traversing Ngoc Hoa Stream and bamboo forest.

Wild sunflowers, or dã quỳ, are scattered around from October to November. A rose myrtle species from Thailand blooms from the beginning of summer, with its purple colour representing love and loyalty. Meanwhile, golden shower trees bloom in early summer, giving tourists some great photos.

A conference on making the most use of the French architecture relics on Ba Vi Mountain was held recently in Hanoi, with the aim of acknowledging the cultural and historical value of the remnants and identifying how to revive this “sleeping beauty” and develop the site in a sustainable manner.

Initiated by the Vietnam Association of Architects (VNAA) in co-operation with Melia Hotels International Group, the conference took place in early September in Hanoi, gathering together 150 Vietnamese and foreign experts in architecture, culture, preservation, art, history, and tourism.

Many documents regarding the resort town built by the French on Height 400m, Height 600m, and Height 1,000m were revealed for the first time at the conference. These are evidence of harmony between Eastern and Western cultures, between the French lifestyle and local natural spaces.

“Anyone who visits the French relics on Ba Vi Mountain will realise that the town should be revived and its story told,” said Nguyen Tan Van, chairman of the VNAA.

“It is necessary to promote the site, restore its old buildings, and spread Ba Vi’s historical and cultural stories, but development must go with preservation, which is a key strategy to boost local tourism.”

“Our task is to identify the right way to make investments, respect nature and the environment, restore the relics, and add to the site while preserving the harmony between the jungle and the buildings.”

“It would be of great regret if the century-old remnants were to be consumed by the jungle and completely disappear.”

“Reusing old buildings in a positive way is a solid strategy for protecting heritage for present and future generations,” he said.

“Ba Vi Mountain is like nowhere else in Vietnam, with a French resort area built in harmony with nature and respectful of local culture. I support the idea of putting up new buildings on the foundations of old villas.

“The old architecture of the French is diverse and functional and includes villas, churches, libraries, kindergartens, and restaurants, so I would suggest highlighting them.”

Paredes added: “We can use eco-friendly materials, design new buildings in an old style to match the previous architecture, and create a comprehensive project wherein myths, history, nature, and luxury come together.

“Nestled amid Ba Vi Mountain Range and with fresh air and panoramic views of the plains, the site is the ideal getaway to relax and liven up your senses.”

Painter Thanh Chuong, meanwhile, said he felt moved upon seeing hundreds of ruins on Ba Vi Mountain. Traces of villas hidden among trees are evidence of the splendour of the past. What belongs to culture must be protected, but we must still promote its value. If not, days of yore will simply be buried forever beneath the roots of ever-growing trees.

“Ba Vi National Park is a precious primary forest, of which there are only a few left in Vietnam, and Ba Vi Mountain has an important place in terms of history, culture, and spiritual life for the Vietnamese people,” Chuong said.

“So, whatever we do, we must respect and protect the forest. I believe the operation of the Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat will be done in a proper manner. New buildings don’t harm the jungle, as they are built on the grounds of the demolished French buildings.”

Chuong also spoke of the lessons to be learned from overheated development at other mountainous tourism sites such as Tam Dao, Da Lat, and Sa Pa.

According to Dang Van Bai, a member of the Vietnam National Cultural Heritage Council, Ba Vi is like an oasis of relaxation. The French built villas that were suitable with the local climate and inspired by the beauty and simplicity of traditional Vietnamese wooden houses.

He suggested how best to promote the French relics as part of tourism in the national park.

“Such a project needs transparency in distributing the benefits between all parties and must be under the control of the local government and community. Ecological tourism should develop a sustainable local economy, with the exact impact on the environment determined beforehand,” Bai said.

“Ba Vi National Park now offers a range of tourism products to meet the preferences of different people, so I think the restoration of French relics should target luxury tourism only.”

The green mossy staircase to a French mansion gives tourists a panoramic view over Ba Vi Mountain Range and also the Đà River.

Villas blending into their surroundings help tourists experience Vietnam’s exotic nature and understand more about its history.

As a saying goes, it’s better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.




Coc Pai rural market – a unique tourism product in Ha Giang



Ha Giang impresses visitors not only with the majestic scenery of the mountains and terraced fields but also with the unique features of its rural markets.

Coc Pai rural market in Xin Man district, which opens every Sunday, is an ideal destination for visitors to the mountainous province.

Xin Man, located in the Northwest of Ha Giang province, is one of the poorest districts with rough paths.

Coc Pai rural market is an opportunity for the ethnic minority people to purchase local specialties such as agricultural products, livestock, poultry, specialty vegetables, fresh fruits and medicinal plants.

Coc Pai rural market – a unique tourism product in Ha Giang

The landmark in the district’s centre has become a place for local people to sell their products.

Green vegetables grown by the locals are sold at the market.

Crowded activities at Coc Pai rural market

Roosters and hens raised by H’Mong ethnic minority people sold at the market

Mountainous products sold at the market.

While selling products, H’Mong women embroider.

H’Mong girls, wearing traditional costumes, chatting at the market.

Children are taken to the market.

The H’Mong elderly talking at the rural market.

Locals selecting products serving agricultural production

Visitors are eager to see the products provided by the ethnic minority people.

Nhan Dan


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Hoi An’s fried shrimp wonton



Fried shrimp wonton is among the dishes visitors should not miss in the ancient town of Hoi An. Wonton is made with rice flour and filled with ingredients such as shrimp, pork, egg, and spices.

Hoi An’s fried shrimp wonton

Fried shrimp wonton has become a familiar dish, associated with the ancient town of Hoi An. (Photo: VNP/VNA)

Hoi An’s fried shrimp wonton

Among Hoi An’s unique dishes, fried wonton is easy to make and quick to process. (Photo:VNP/VNA)

Hoi An’s fried shrimp wonton

Tomato, onion, pineapple, bean sprouts, shrimp are main ingredients of the dish (Photo: VNP/VNA)

Hoi An’s fried shrimp wonton

Tomato, onion, pineapple, bean sprouts, shrimp are main ingredients of the dish (Photo: VNP/VNA)

Hoi An’s fried shrimp wonton

There are many ways of processing wonton dishes: fried wonton, wonton soup or wonton. Fried wonton is made with rice flour and filled with ingredients such as shrimp, pork, egg, and spices. (Photo: VNP/VNA)


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Three schools attract travelers in Hue City



Besides famous tourist attractions, the following three schools attract tourists in the former royal capital city of Hue.

Hue National High School

Built in 1896, Hue National High School is one of the oldest high schools in Vietnam. It was originally the school for children from royal and noble families.

The unique Vietnamese-French architecture and the ancient beauty of the school attract many photographers.

On the site that used to be former squadron headquarters and royal navy headquarters, French colonialists built this school to train those who would serve the feudal colonial government. At that time, French was the main subject for students and the school’s gate was titled “Phap tu Quoc Hoc truong mon” (French National High School’s Gate). Now it’s named Hue National High School and is a high-profile school where all students must pass a competitive entrance exam to gain admission.

The school is a complex with five blocks of classrooms, a big football field, basketball court, five badminton courts, a swimming pool, a medium size stadium and also a block of dormitory. It’s considered the largest and also the most beautiful high school campus in Vietnam. This surrounding makes a great picture of red French designed building in harmony with green background with a lot of large shady trees and stone benches.

Not only is Quoc Hoc famous for its charming scene, it also gains prominence for tradition of patriotism, industriousness, academic achievements and respect for time-honored values of teacher-student relationships. Several Vietnam political leaders have studied here, including: Nguyen Tat Thanh (President Ho Chi Minh), General Vo Nguyen Giap, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, etc. In addition, the school is famed for its students who are well-known poets (Xuan Dieu, Huy Can, To Huu, Luu Trong Lu etc.), scientists (Ta Quang Buu, Ton That Tung, Dang Van Ngu, etc.), musicians (Tran Hoan, Chau Ky, Nguyen Van Thuong, etc.) and sculptor Diem Phung Thi and so on. The school also has students who won high prizes in many International Competitions.

Tourists who want to visit Quoc Hoc High School should remember that the school doesn’t allow entrance during class time, which ends at 5.15 p.m. every day. You can take photos with a natural background, understand more about French colonial architecture and watch female students in white ao dai, sparkling in the nice background.

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Hue National High School for the Gifted is located on the main road of Le Loi, in the middle of the city center. Photo: Vanv2403, jerryjump_, mia.lecious, llgelg.

Hue University of Foreign Languages

If you are planning to explore Hue after the Covid-19 pandemic and want to look for unusual and unique check-in points, Hue University of Foreign Language definitely should be on your list. Contrary to the majestic look of the ancient capital, the school has modern and youthful architecture.

Hue University’s College of Foreign Languages provides hundreds of interesting backdrops, from the lake ares to the colorful walls to the balcony overlooking the whole school.

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Hue University of Foreign Languages is an attractive destination for visitors for its modernity and novelty. Photo: Minpiupiu, dear_my_diamond.

Hue University of Education

Located on Le Loi Street, opposite the poetic Huong River, Hue University of Education is a famous place to take impressive check-in photos.

Hue University of Education has become more popular lately as it was chosen to be a film set for Dreamy Eyes (Mắt Biếc), a movie directed by Victor Vu. The twisted stairs, corridors, yellow walls, green garden… are the top sites chosen by young people when coming here.

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With the unique beauty of Hue, the school has an old building architecture and campus. Photo: Kkung_19, lananh_to, tam_suni.

Compiled by Le Ha

Photos: Zing


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