Exploring Xuan Son National Park in Vietnam

Who would ever expect that a magnificent haven of natural wonders lies just 100 kilometers from Hanoi, known capital of Vietnam, and the country’s second largest city. Located at the southeast-most stretch of Hoang Lien Son mountains and covering an area of more than 15,000 hectares, Xuan Son National Park holds the country’s most captivating scenery. Cradling hundreds of grottos and caves, serene streams and waterfalls that drops to more than 50 meters high, the park is also popular to tourists for possessing an extremely diversified plant and animal life. The hundreds of species of trees as well as of the wild and rare animals all thrive in the limestone karst that envelopes the mountain’s entirety. Their locality takes pride on having the country’s only national park with a primeval forest growing on limestone.

Situated in Thanh Son District of Phu Tho Province, a visit to Xuan Son National Park will spoil any tourist who craves for exploring and discovering the wild. The vastness of natural beauty and wonders, along with the extraordinary experiences that await any visitor will never make any stay long enough to fully enjoy and see what more surprises will unfold in this not-so-distant paradise. Trekking, spelunking, experiencing homestay with ethnic minority families among the many things to do, not even the lengthiest tourist stay will make a visitor feel he had seen enough. A tour to Xuan Son would always conclude to a second visit.

Xuan Son National Park can be reached by taking a motorbike or car from Hanoi, following National Road No.32. A popular tour option would be a trip to the Du Village and taking a trek up the Ten Mountain. It might take a couple of hours for your motorbike to take you to the village’s rough and narrow roads, but the breathtaking view of the hundreds of hectares of tea plantation along the route is just one of the many reasons that makes the trip so much worth it. Known as Phu Tho Province’s most remote area, Du Village is also home to the Dao ethnic people.

The traditional architecture employed in the construction of their houses could be seen with the unique style and character of every structure, either built on stilts, level with the ground, or half on stilt and its other half on beaten earth. But it is the warm acceptance and delicious cooking of the Dao that will make your entire stay so worthwhile. As a custom, they always welcome their guests in the kitchen. There, a fire is always lit to keep everyone warm from the biting chill carried along by the night wind.

After a restful sleep, you would be heading for an eight-hour Trek to the peaks of Ten Mountain, considered one of the highest three in Xuan Son at about 1,000 above sea level. The air could get chilly up there so make sure you equip yourself with warm clothes, leech repellent and a first aid kit. Food and lot of drinking water is just as important, and you might get lucky if your hospitable Dao host will pack you up something delicious to take with you. They usually do, and taking a packageful of Dao delicacies like sticky-rice packed cakes and specially-cooked chicken could come in really handy after a strenuous climb.

With its path steep and rough, all the hard work will pay off as you reach the top of the forest-covered peak and witness the amazing panorama that will unfold in front of you. Reaching the top is already a victory in itself, but setting sight of the wonderful scene stretched before you is another experience worth taking pride in. Making your way down already makes a part of you want to stay up there and savor the moment a little longer, but saying goodbye to the wonderful Dao people and heading back to Hanoi is more far from consoling. True, Hanoi is fun and alive and endlessly interesting, but leaving behind a place of bewitching charm, warmth and hospitality would make you truly want to rather stay. Luckily, 100 kilometers from the capital makes a second visit to Xuan Son National Park always possible.

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