Duong Lam Village, outside Hanoi - review by Rusty Compass
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Duong Lam Village, outside Hanoi

| 09 Jul 2015


Duong Lam Village, outside Hanoi
Duong Lam, Son Tay - 50kms from Hanoi
7 days

Our rating
09 Jul 2015

Duong Lam is a surprisingly picturesque traditional village about 50kms from Hanoi. It's an enjoyable half day trip and the nearby Son Tay Citadel and surrounding rural countryside are an added bonus.

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Duong Lam is the best place within easy reach of Hanoi for an experience of traditional Vietnamese village life in a beautiful rural setting. Dozens of houses, dating back as far as 300 years, line narrow lanes of laterite stone, giving the town a unique old world feel. A handful of old houses have been restored with Japanese aid money.

Duong Lam’s a great place to get a sense of the beautiful aesthetic of traditional Vietnamese timber architecture - the courtyards, the ancestral worship room and the living areas.

I’m normally pretty skeptical about any tourist sight marked as “traditional” in Vietnam. It usually means a tacky tourist trap. So I was pleasantly surprised by Duong Lam.

I walked around the town and explored the old wooded houses and other structures for a couple of hours. The locals were friendly and the town was blissfully free of other travellers.

Most of the town’s buildings are newly built - this is no perfect replica of a traditional village. But it is a living, breathing local community. And most of the new buildings are low-rise and don’t diminish the atmosphere of the place.

I’d recommend visiting either very early, or late in the afternoon as I did. You’ll get the best light for photography and you’ll most likely avoid other tourists too.

Duong Lam isn’t for everybody - but will appeal to those with an interest in architecture and traditional living. Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas can easily be added to a visit to Duong Lam making a half day spent outside of Hanoi. A longer day could also include exploration of Ba Vi National Park and rural countryside.

The 19th century Nguyen Dynasty citadel at nearby Son Tay is also worth a visit. The original tower remains as do sections of the original walls and a section of gate.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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