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HOA BINH PROVINCE

hoa_binh
Hoa Binh province, which means “peace” in Vietnamese, is located in the North of Viet Nam. It borders Son La and Phu Tho province to the northwest, Ha Noi city to the north and northeast, Ha Nam to the southeast, Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa to the south. This province is a typically hilly region combined with a large number of narrow valleys. It is an absolutely fantastic destination for such activities as climbing, walking, hunting, stream bathing etc.
 
Because of its topography, the climate varies considerably according to seasons. In winter, it is cold and there is less rain. In contrast, it becomes hot and rainy in summer. The temperature often ranges from 15°C (in January) to 29°C (in July).
 
Nature and manpower have given this place a poetic river named Da which is the habitat of many kinds of rare plants and animals. Furthermore, others attractions such as Thac Bo cave, Hang Ret, Hoa Tien cave etc are also promising places and those seem to welcome all the visitors who want to explore. Hoa Binh is not only the land of nature but also the home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples as well. The total population of 787 thousand people (April 2009) consists of 5 ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Muong, Thai, Tay, Dao. The culture of Hoa Binh is the combination of different languages, festivals, customs and habits; therefore, visitors have a really good chance to enjoy many characteristics here. As regards food, no one can deny that even the most fastidious people are also pleased with wild animal specialities and unique wine of the ethnic groups named Ruou Can (pipe-wine). Eating forest products and drinking Ruou Can is accompanied by traditional dance or gong performance will undoubtedly take the visitors’s mind off things to enjoy to the utmost the time in Hoa Binh.
GEOGRAPHY
Hoa Binh is a mountainous province in the North. It is bordered by Phu Tho and Ha Tay in the north, Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa in the south, Ha Nam in the east, and Son La in the west.
 
The topography is combined by mountains and narrow valleys. The annual average temperature varies between 23 and 25oC.
HOW TO GET THERE ?
Road and water transportation are convenient. There is National Highway No. 6 from Hanoi vie Ha Tay to Hoa Binh, Son La, National Highway No. 15 from Mai Chau to Thanh Hoa, National Highway No. 12B from Hoa Binh to Nho Quan (Ninh Binh).
 
Hoa Binh Town is 82km from Hanoi. Da River is 5km from Hoa Binh City.
WHAT TO SEE ?
Mai Chau
One of Hoa Binh’s districts, Mai Chau is noted for its beautiful scenery as a mountainous region. The district is about 60km from Hoa Binh and covers an area of 520 km2. In Mai Chau Valley, there are also national caves and grottoes such as Mo Luong Cave, Chieu Cave, Pieng Kem Grotto, and archaeological sites such as Lang Cave and Khau Phuc Cave. When standing on the peak of the Cun Mountain, the first things that catch tourists’eyes are the picturesque panorama of Mai Chau stilt houses along with a lush green valley. Another thing that is unforgettable in Mai Chau is that tourists are warmly hosted by the ethnic groups, especially Thai people in Lac village. Those who are in their spare time away from the rice paddies will cook, lead hikes and pull out a sleeping mat for wandering guests.
 
Normally, most travelers choose to stay a night in one of the stilt houses to experience the life of the ethnic tribe people. Stilt houses are the typical feature of the ethnic people in Viet Nam. The houses border both sides of the roads. The houses are quite large in which up to 60 people can stay together. They are roofed with palm leaves while the floors are made of bamboo. The kitchen is situated in the center of the house. This is the place where cooking and weaving work take place. Thai people make colorful clothes themselves from “tho cam” materials. They also make many kinds of souvenirs such as wallets, bags, embroidered pictures, hats etc. Tourists can find those in various types and colors in the Mai Chau market. Mai Chau market, especially in spring, is the mixture of nature and people.  Feeling the cold wind and going around the market to admire the beauty and exquisite talent of the Thai maidens or enjoying the local specialty food or buying local fresh products all gives you great pleasure.
 
In the recent time, Mai Chau has undergone considerable changes as it has become a popular breakpoint for travelers. Some areas have now been commercialized; as a result, compared to the past the prices here may go up a little bit. However, this trend is not worrying so much because the breathtaking scenery and hospitality of the people as well as the valuable traditions still remain. It is even more convenient as tourism services are highly developed. Mai Chau never stops being a welcoming place for tourists in general.
 
Kim Boi Spring
For those who want to take a day off after long tiring journeys, Kim Boi Hot spring is the right place. With a 30km drive from Hoa Binh town, tourists can easily access Ha Bi commune, Kim Boi district. The district covers an area of 682 km2 and lies in the hot spring of a mineral stream.
 
Clear water continually spouts from the fountains, normally between 340C and 360C. According to some scientific tests, Kim Boi water resources can reach the required standard for quality; therefore, it proves to be suitable for drinking and bathing. In fact, the Kim Boi mineral water is bottled for refreshment. It has almost the same composition as certain famous foreign brands of mineral water in the world. In addition, it is believed that heated water can hold more dissolved solids and have a high mineral content including calcium or lithium or radium. As a result, this water is considerable as a highly effective therapy for rheumatism, intestinal diseases, stomachache, high blood pressure etc. This can even be a good location for rehabilitation clinics for those with disabilities.
 
As for tourists, depending on their budget they can choose to stay at any hotels in the resort area. Wherever they are, the same point is that they can hear the sound of water spouting out, which is very relaxing. Being immersed in a large mineral water deposit of Kim Boi stream is also not unmemorable for every visitor. Certainly, no one will refuse to spend time in such a spot!
 
Tien Phi cave
After visiting Hoa Binh Dam, tourists should never miss the chance to go to Tien Phi cave on their path to Hoa Binh. The cave is situated on Thuc’s hill-top (maybe called in other name Thung Phi). The entry mouth is considerably narrow, followed by a gentle slope.  Walking 10 more meters, you will see that because of the high and dry cave top, the atmosphere inside is pretty cool and comfortable. As you get farther into the cave, the more excited you may get. Despite the rough ground, you can still enjoy the stalactites glittering illusorily. Stalactites jut out in many funny and lively shapes, exciting visitors’ imagination.  Much more interestingly, thanks to nature light from the hole on the cave’s roof, those stalactites become extremely spectacular when bright light is shone on them. Right in the middle of the cave is a charity box and an altar for those who want to prayer. This scene is so tranquil that it is like a sacred and mysterious castle among the world of shaped stones.
 
Walk 10 more meters to your left you will see a dreamy fairy whose hair falls over her shoulders on an iridescent hammock. Besides, you can find many other rocks in the shape of Buddha, Jesus, leopard and lion etc. It is here in Tien Phi cave that visitors are exposed to a wide range of fairy tales. Natural masterpieces will definitely make such a good impression on visitors that they should never forget the time in this cave.
 
Hoa Binh Dam
The most well-known feature of Hoa Binh is Hoa Binh Dam for hydro-electric purposes. Construction on the rockfill dam started in November 1979 and it took nearly 10 years to complete. The dam is now one of the largest and most important dams in Viet Nam. It is 128m in height and 970 m in length. Power is generated by utilizing eight turbines with a capacity of 240 MW, making up the total capacity to about 1,920 MW. The annual power is approximately 8,160 GWh. The reservoir which was formed when the Da river was dammed runs through Hoa Binh’s center. Right here 168 workers died during the construction of the Dam and there is now a monument to their memory at the dam site.
 
The Hoa Binh Dam plays an indispensible part in preventing flood, producing electricity, irrigation and transportation. This is a meaningful construction to the process of industrialization and modernization of the country. It is the symbol of unshakeable friendship between Soviet Union and Viet Nam, too. Moreover, this place is a source of tourism. Annually it attracts a quite great number of tourists because of the majesty and grandeur of the architecture, the surface area of which is so large that it creates an impressive architectural, cultural and social complex.
 
Dam Da
While such names as Hoa Tien cave, Tien Phi cave, Mai Chau valley, Hoa Binh hydroelectric dam are tourists highlights, Dam Da seem to be an obscure historical site. Dam Da is located in Phu Lao commune, Lac Thuy district, Hoa Binh province.
 
Dam Da is actually a vast complex of temples, pagodas and caves in the district, including Trinh temple (also known as Quan Trinh), Mau temple, Tien pagoda and etc. The temples and pagodas here are closely related to legendary characters in Viet Nam’s history such as Au Co mother, Lac Long Quan Father, Hoang Bay Mandarin and Tam Toa Thanh Mau. In Tien cave and Ho cave (other name: Nguoi xua cave), archaeologists have found traces of ancient people, contributing a great deal to the historical study. Now Tien pagoda has received national recognition as a historical cultural site and it is attracting many visitors to come here for sightseeing or worship.
 
Apart from historical and cultural values, Dam Da is marked by its natural spectacular caves. There are Tam Toa cave, Thuy Tien cave, Cung Tien cave, Hoang Muoi cave, Co Chin cave etc. One will find it extremely difficult to list all the caves here. When coming into each cave, tourists will be totally taken by surprised at the gigantic and illusory stalagmites and stalactites.
 
Dam Da is most crowded in spring, particularly from January to March when there is Chua Tien festival. It is also convenient for tourists to visit Huong pagoda nearby a famous attraction in My Duc district, Ha Noi.
 

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