Why we want to tour Duong Lam ancient village
After a fantastic Halong bay trip, we still had a free day in Hanoi and would love do a day tour to a tranquil place and experience authentic Vietnamese countryside. We came across a recommendation on Trip Advisor. They mentioned a place called Duong Lam ancient village and said “if you can get there, it will be great to explore the real Vietnam and those ancient houses over 400 years old made of laterite and mud, two materials that are abundant in the area”. It was 60km away from Hanoi and it takes us one and a half hour to get there. The village situated in a rural area on the west of Hanoi. We came down at the lobby and asked hotel’s receptionist of Duong Lam tour. It was so kind of her to give us information in detail of the tour so we decided to book a tour departing the next morning with them. We were advised not to wear short clothes when visiting temples and pagodas to be respectful, sunglasses & hat, suncream, sunblock, good shoes and cash in local currency.
An enriching experience starts
We were ready at the hotel lobby at 8.00 and met our tour guide called Binh. His warm smile gave us such a good impression. We got to drive along national highway number 32. We wondered why houses in Vietnam are thin and high. Our guide said because of high price for real estate so that people couldn’t afford to buy a big house. We stopped at a lush green rice paddy field for taking photos. We just wanted to say awesome! An endless space appeared in front of your eyes. We wished we could hug those all. Finally, we arrived at the village. We felt such a peaceful scenery of a Vietnamese countryside. We hung out under the shadow of a 400 year old banyan tree which was one of symbol of a Vietnamese village along with a communal well and communal house’ roof. Closely is Mong Phu village gate. Unlike other village gates in the northern area of Vietnam with a pavilion on a boat shaped roof, the gate is just like a two roof slopes house on the way to Duong Lam ancient village, an ancient Viet village still preserves tangible and intangible cultural values closely attached over centuries.
Our first stop is Mong Phu communal house which is a unique and traditional architecture with a sitting floor in the communal area of the house, a bold type of Viet – Muong nationality architecture, was built in 1553. The communal house play an important spirit role for locals.
Ancient houses in Duong Lam ancient village are very unique
Before getting to Mr Huyen’ ancient house, our guide suggested we say hello to the host family to show respect. We were warmly welcomed by the host family. We were invited to drink a cup of green tea and had a discussion about their daily lives and business. The husband is a journalist and his wife is a teacher at a local school. The wife showed us some photos of her husband and children painted by herself on the wall. The house had over 300 years history and given from farther to son. This is the 14th generation of the family. The house consists of a main room at the center with a ancestor worship altar in the middle, on the left hand side, there was another altar to worship Buddha – one of the major religion of Viet people, on the right hand side, there was another one worshiping god of the house. The left wing was a studying room, the right wing was a kitchen and living room. The columns, beams, and roof frame are assembled scrupulously and together with the fine carvings and ornaments, they add to the grandeur of the house. The couple also make soya bean sauce stored in jars as well a tradition that has been in their family for generations at the yard. It is very interesting about how they make their living by journalism, the soya beans, bicycle hire, and of course lunches for tourists.
A glimpse of Vietnam Buddhist temples
After that, we hopped on our bikes along tiny alleys, houses made of of laterite and mud which is unique to Duong Lam and headed Mia (Sugar Cane) pagoda. We parked our bikes outside the pagoda. Right at the entrance gate, we were invited to buy some local specialties such as Vietnamese sweet peanuts candy, “Che Lam” made of sticky rice flour, castor sugar, malt and ginger and soya bean sauce. The pagoda is built in the 15 th century and admire 287 statues of all sizes, along with are famous sculpture such as the statue of Buddha in the Himalayas and the statues of the Eight Vajra Deities.
Highlights of the pagoda is Mia Tong Quan Âm Tu (0.76 m high), often called the Ba ocular. This subject described a woman modest, with grace, of boring but at very lenient. Road features engraved soft, machine sliding.
After half an hour in the pagoda, we went for a walk in a local market nearby. There were plenty of fruits, veggies, meats and household displayed. We took some photos of the market and stopped at a fruit stall to buy some oranges and mandarins. We headed back to the house on our bikes. After a short break, lunch was served with nice local foods such as corn soup, deep fried spring roll – my favorite food, steam rice, deep fried fishes, banana flower salad, chả lá lốt ( pork tossed with wild betel leaf), honey-glazed grilled chicken, stir-fried morning glory and some fruit for desserts. Without no doubt the home cooked food we had beat all other Vietnamese food we had on our tour hands down. It was so delicious.
Duong Lam was also known as the homeland of two kings : Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung. After lunch, we biked to see those temples. On the way, we passed green paddy fields, fresh veggie field such as corns, kohlrabi , broccoli and salad, duck farms and didn’t forget to take a plenty of photos. Our first stop is Phung Hung temple. Phung Hung who was famous for helping villages kill tiger and honored as royal highest. After a short visit, we moved to Ngo Quyen Temple. Ngo Quyen who soundly defeated the Chinese at the famous Battle of Bạch Đằng River north of modern Haiphong and ended 1,000 years of Chinese domination dating back to 111 BC under the Han Dynasty. We didn’t forget to put some money in the donation box to pray for a good luck.
On the way back, we stopped at a church inside Mong Phu hamlet, like many those seen in many regions of Vietnam. A man who lives in the house next door opened the gate and welcomed us to the church. A Vietnamese parish priest designed and hired carpenters of other villages to build this church in 1953. Most of the Christians in the village contributed time and effort to build this church. During the French colonial period, there were about 100 households of believers. Today, many followers still go to the church every Wednesday to attend the service. The soaring bell tower serves as a landmark of the village. We said goodbye to him and didn’t forget to leave some donation for his friendliness and enthusiasm.
Should we come back Duong Lam ancient village again?
Back to the house, we bid farewell our host family and went was back to Hanoi around 4.00pm to finish an amazing day, escaping Hanoi to the Vietnamese countryside. We HIGHLY recommend Duong Lam ancient village for everyone ever traveling to Vietnam. It should be written up on your travel lists with the other famous tourist attractions. It’s the unique place where you can come and recharge your soul. It is once in a lifetime experience!.