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Lang Son is the chief town of the province under the same name, yet it mainly serves the travelers as a point to stop off on their way to somewhere else. This is a popular place to cross to and from China , esp. after the two countries reopened the border.
The town still contains the remains of a citadel built in 18th century, and there are numerous hill tribe villages around this area, particularly those of the Tay , Nung and Dzao. The Vietnamese tourists also stop here to visit Buddhist pagodas built inside Nhi Thanh and Tam Thanh Caves , which are believed to have echo twice (Nhi Thanh) or three times (Tam Thanh). Lang Son is also famous for winter fruits like peaches, pears, plums and persimmons and for grilled ducks and pork, which evidently bear the influence of Chinese Guangdong cuisine.
To cross to China from Lang Son is passing over Dong Dang border gate which is correct entry point (Dong Dang) marked on your visa, otherwise you may be turned away. This can create a problem as you would have already officially left China .
Tam Thanh and Nhi Thanh Grottoes
Tam Thanh Grotto is situated in Tam Thanh Ward, Lang Son City , There is a poem by Ngo Thi Si carved on the grotto wall praising the magnificent natural beauty of the area. More specifically the sound of the water stream falling on hundreds of rocks, almost like a graceful murmur. Vong Phu Mountain , meaning "waiting for a husband," is located nearby. Here, one can explore a grotto with marvelous stalactites and a statue of Buddha.
Tam Thanh Grotto is one of the famous grottoes in Lang Son, lying west of Ky Lua Street . Its door is approximately 8m high, opening to a corridor with 30 stone steps carved into the mountain. There are dense groves hiding the grotto from the sun. Poet Ngo Thi Sy (1726-1780) carved one of his texts on the grotto wall while he was a Mandarin guard in Lang Son.
Nhi Thanh Grotto is 600 meters deep. on the cliffs at the entrance are 20 inscriptions that are precious historical and literary documents, including autographs of famous scholars. The statue of scholar Ngo Thi Sy on the cliff engraved in 1779 is a precious work of art. The grotto has numerous stalactites and stalagmites in different shapes, above the grotto is Tam Giao Pagoda, which was built in 1779. The pagoda is dedicated to Confucian, Buddha and Laotze.
Mau Son Mountain
Mau Son Mountain is located in Loc Binh District, about 30km from Lang Son City. With the wind whistling up and the cloud floating down, the sky seems within hands reach. The panorama from the highest peak in Lang Son region is like a Chinese ink drawing.
To the north is Ninh Minh , China , to the east is Na Duong and to the west is Dong Dang, all merging beautifully into one spectacular landscape. The winding narrow mountain path, like a snake, lies tucked between 2 steep mountains.
About seventy years ago before this path existed, there were only two ways to the top, walking or on horseback. At that time, this panoramic area attracted the French to Mau Son for relaxation. The weather was cool all year round and in addition, the Dear Mountain View of the northeast was the gateway to China , and the French built a military base there at the early of the 20th century to guard the border. The site's original inhabitants, members of the Dao ethnic minority, were moved to make way for the French settlement. only authorized personnel were permitted to enter the French base.
Later, Mau Son tourists were also welcome to the hill station. In January 1936, Dr.O.Pilot, a student of the famous bacteriologist Dr. Alexandre Yersin, visited Mau Son. Some local people say that the doctor first came to Mau Son to collect traditional medicinal herbs, which were cultivated in die region. And then, he petitioned Mr Tholace, then French governor of the North, for permission to build tourist villas at the site. In 1936 he got the goaded to buy land and to start the construction. There were thousands of local people working on the project, all mining, breaking and carrying stones to bad a number of massive villas, all in all it took seven years of work to accomplish this task. There were no bricks available to build with; the only materials available were stones, bled to ruins. Blocks of orange moss-covered stories are scattered throughout the site, lying dead amongst the old foundations, where even now, it is possible to identify the houses former kitchens, fireplaces and staircases.
Like sleeping beauty, after almost five decades, it was all but forgotten. Until 1987 motorbikes were not even allowed onto the torturous road up the mountain.
Ky Lua market
Ky Lua market in Lang Son is the place of trading and exchanging goods between domestic areas with national culture activities of LangSon. Ky Lua market opens up market-days 6 times a month on 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, and 27th. on these market-days, goods and produce of almost provinces are traded and exchanged. People sometimes go to the market not because of trading but because of visiting and discussing business with each others. Ethnic young people go to the market to meet friends and seek for their life partners through exchanging love singing. At the market, people sell colorful brocade, clothes and foods with Lang Son's traditional flavor.
Lang Son yearly holds Ky Lua fair lasting from 22nd to 27th of lunar January. This is a traditional culture activity. Nowadays, Ky Lua market has restored and it opens all day and night. Going to Ky Lua night market leaves a great impression on tourists who go to Lang Son because of the fresh air of mountainous border area with scenery and people there
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