Rarely in a city can we find a place where the old and the new both harmonize in rhythm. Rarely at one place and one moment do we feel both an adventurous sensation and the desire to hold back time. If you are craving this, come along with helloVietnam tour operator to discover Đường Lâm – an ancient village on the side of the capital.
1. Duong Lam – memoir of the past in contemporary rhythm
Undeniably, we are living in the limbo of both the old and the new, vaguely distanced from each other by the line of history. And it is true that amongst the remains, it is hard to preserve what is left. Despite all that, Đường Lâm stands out as a witness of history, harmonizing with the new of the industrialized city.
Located 50 km to the west of Hanoi, Đường Lâm has become one of the most worth-seeing destinations near the capital. In 2006, it was prestigiously nominated to be the national historical relic of Vietnam. What differs Đường Lâm from the others is the fact that it has been praised to be the land of two kings where the great Ngô Quyền and Phùng Hưng were born.
A corner of Duong Lam village
Đường Lâm is a wonderful land not only for its value of profound historical imprint, but also for its aestheticism in the structure of architectural engineering and building. Everything has been preserved to the best it can be, which makes Duong Lam so special. The most amazing thing that the village keeps and turns all heads with is the perfectly genuine Asian constructive style. The yard of bricks, stone well, green field, and the most homely sights make this destination unique and unforgettable.
2. Travel Duong Lam like a local
Normally, people will choose day trips from Hanoi to Đường Lâm because it does not take too much time to actually go around all the must-visit destinations of the village. However, traveling on a day trip is not the easiest thing because Đường Lâm is not just a “village”. In the past, it was formed by nine small villages and therefore seems to have its own life going on inside its walls.
In order to discover Đường Lâm to the fullest in just one day, you will have to set foot to almost ten destinations, try about five different dishes and arrange your time wisely. For that reason, it is better to have a guide with you. However, if you are still sitting on the fence about whether to travel on your own or take a Hanoi tour to discover the place, the itinerary below will briefly take you through the destinations and what you can do at the village.
How to travel to Duong Lam
Đường Lâm is situated outside of Hanoi so you can get easy access by bus, coach, or even motorbike if you can rent one.
The cheapest way is to go by bus, with a one-way trip costing around 20.000VND. These are three stations you can catch the bus at: bus no.71 at Mỹ Đình, bus no.70 at Kim Mã, and bus no.77 at Hà Đông. From there, you can sit the whole trip to Sơn Tây station and then get a taxi if you travel in groups, or “xe ôm” (motor taxi) if you travel solo to the village.
Xe om in Vietnam
On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to rent a motorbike in Hanoi, you can drive to the village easily in just 2 hours. Nevertheless, you should remember that the traffic here can be very congested, so if you want to travel by motorbike, you should equip yourself with confidence and ability to make sure you know how to ride properly. If you are still uncertain about the motorcycle trip, you can ride to Sơn Tây commune and then ask for the way to Đường Lâm.
Duong Lam itinerary
If you depart early in the morning at 8 am, for example, you will probably be there by 10 am. This will be a perfect time for you to drop by the first destination – Mông Phụ entrance and communal house.
Mong Phu entrance
Mông Phụ is both the biggest and the most magnificent entrance to the village. Back in the past, Đường Lâm had a total of five entrances, but the destruction of time seems to have left behind only Mông Phụ entrance, which was built in 1833.
Mong Phu entrance
Mong Phu communal house
Upon entering Mông Phụ entrance, you will be led to Mông Phụ communal house, which was built around 380 years ago. This place is praised for having a gorgeous and brilliant state of art in every single line of draw. Mông Phụ communal house has many legends, and the most popular of them all is the one about the holy dragon. It used to ing and carving on its bricks be rumored that Mông Phụ was placed on the top of a dragon’s head with the wells being its two eyes. In addition, there are also many other stories about the cleverness of the architects in designing the house yard which will be revealed during your trip.
Mong Phu communal house
Giang Van Minh Shrine
Leaving the communal house, Giang Văn Minh shrine should be your next stop. Being built in Tự Đức Dynasty, the shrine was especially dedicated to Giang Văn Minh – a great mandarin, who was in the honor of Thần Tông Emperor, and went to China to speak to the king. The shrine is now being watched over by the 13th descendant of Giang – Mr. Giang Văn Kế.
Entrance of Giang Van Minh Shrine
After visiting the shrine, it should be around noon. This will be a great occasion for you to try out Đường Lâm’s specialties. The village offers a great variety of dishes. However, once you have come to Đường Lâm, “gà mía” (sugarcane chicken) is the one dish that you cannot miss.
Known as “the dish for the king”, Đường Lâm sugarcane chicken is definitely a must-try. In the past, rarely did the villagers have the chance to taste the dish except in special events such as the Lunar New Year or the village’s festivals. These days, despite the fact that it is not hard to at least try the dish once, sugarcane chicken is still a highly rated dish of Đường Lâm with a sweet flavor and crispy skin. It is usually suggested to tourists for lunch.
For the meal, you can also ask for a dish of water spinach with Đường Lâm’s soy sauce. Water spinach with soy sauce is a must-have dish on the table of traditional Vietnamese families. Despite soy sauce being not vey well-known in other provinces, it deserves an applause in Doung Lam. The soy sauce is carefully homemade, and the sauce making in Đường Lâm is considered a hereditary career from father to son. If you take a look at some local houses in the village, you will see lots of big jars in which the soy sauce is being preserved and fermented.
Water spinach with soy sauce
Duong Lam’s old houses
Having finished your lunch, it is time for you to visit the old houses in Đường Lâm. Most of these were the local’s houses and a few still live there. The old houses in Đường Lâm have been passed down from generation to generation and of course, it is difficult to keep them untouched from the destruction of time. Currently, there are three old houses in Đường Lâm which are pre-eminent in both design and age.
Mr. Huyến’s old house is highly estimated in the list of antique houses. Mr. Huyến’s house creates a strong impression with the lush greenery mixed in the brownish-orange bricks and walls. Most of the yard space is for soy sauce jars because making sauce has been a tradition in his family.
Mr. Huyen’s old house
In contrast to Mr. Huyến’s style of design, Mr. Hùng decided that the main highlights in designing his house would be wooden materials. Built in 1649, Mr. Hùng’s old house has all the patterns that a traditional Vietnamese house can have based on the building rules of “five compartments” (Vietnamese tranditional houses were usually seperated into five different parts: the three middle parts were larger and the other two on the sides were narrower. In the past, only the local mandarin or the rich could build this kind of house).
A corner of Mr. Hung’s old house
Different from the other two houses, Ms. Lan’s house was built later on in 1780 and is not actually an old house. However, it is still on this list for the stunning and special design of a traditional house with high value in culture.
Besides these three houses, there are also others of Mrs. Điền, Mr. Thể, and Mr. Vĩnh.
Mrs. Dien and her grandson in their house
Duong Lam’s Temples
As written above, Đường Lâm is the birthplace of the two great kings Ngô Quyền and Phùng Hưng. This is why that to this day, the village has two separate temples for people to come and express their loyalty and gratitude to the two kings. Because Ngô Quyền’s temple and Phùng Hưng’s temple are quite near each other, it is suitable to visit the two at the same time.
Phung Hung’s Temple
Banh te, che lam, and keo doi
You will finish your trip in the afternoon. However, do not leave the village without buying some gifts to bring back home. Besides the soy sauce, Đường Lâm provides many sweet treats and wonderful specialties, in which bánh tẻ (rice cake), chè lam, and kẹo dồi must be mentioned.
A perfect combination is bánh tẻ with Đường Lâm soy sauce. If you do not like the sauce, you can also try the rice cake with some chili.
Banh te (Rice cake)
Chè lam is a great treat when you want some sweetness and warmth in the cold winter. Traditionally, chè lam is eaten along with Vietnamese tea as a dessert after a meal.
Kẹo dồi is a fantastic treat that every child likes. The crispy layer of the candy surrounding the sweet sugar stuffing with groundnuts creates an unforgettable flavor.