Thai Nguyen is famed for its tea, but the province has many other natural attractions still pristine.
Thai Nguyen is virtually a synonym for tea in Vietnam, and this seems to have kept several other beautiful places in the northern province away from the tourism spotlight.
Just 80 km from Hanoi, the province is a gateway to the beautiful northeastern part of the country, including Ha Giang, Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan and Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang on the China-Vietnam border.
But it is best known for producing the nation’s finest teas.
A group of female workers in conical hats pick tea leaves in Thai Nguyen, which has the second largest tea cultivation area after the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong at 20,000 hectares.
Before 1882, tea was grown by local famers in highland areas and valleys surrounded by giant mountains. Then, about half of harvested leaves were used for drinking fresh tea, and the rest was processed and preserved.
In 1882, the French began establishing huge tea estates and using machines and modern cultivation techniques that saw output soar. The province started growing black tea for the Western European market and Chinese green tea for Northern Africa on an industrial scale.
Two women pluck tea leaves in an estate in Thai Nguyen. In some gardens, visitors can now pluck tea leaves and brew them along with locals.
A couple pose during a wedding shoot on a green tea hill in Thai Nguyen.
Around 16 km to the west of downtown Thai Nguyen, the Nui Coc Lake stands pristine thanks to its low profile.
This 25 square kilometer lake is associated with the legendary love story of Coc, a boy from a poor family and Cong, a girl from a rich mandarin family. Despite being deeply in love with each other, they were not allowed to marry each other due to the difference in their social status.
Coc played the flute to call Cong to his room, but she was not allowed to leave the house to meet him. Coc waited for his lover until he died and turned into the Coc Mountain.
Meanwhile, Cong cried day and night after she heard of her lovers’ fate. Her tears seeped to the ground and started flowing as a stream called the ‘Cong’ River.
Nui Coc Lake has 89 islets of several shapes and sizes rising from its emerald waters. It is sometimes called ‘the miniature Ha Long Bay.’
Tourists can take a boat trip to visit these islets and discover a 200-year old house on Nui Cai Islet which has some precious artefacts.
The Nam Rut Waterfall in Vo Nhai District, named in the language of the Tay ethnic minority, means “falling rain.” The waterfall forms only during the rainy season, cascading from a height of 30 meters into the Than Sa River below.
Cua Tu, literally translated as the Death Gate, has been overlooked by tourists and trekkers for years due to its secluded location. It gets its name, locals say, because there is only one path up and down.
At Cua Tu, cliffs and white water runoffs amidst mountains and forests, combine to make a beautiful and challenging landscape.
The name Cua Tu is rooted in a legend about a faithful couple willing to overcome all difficulties to be together. Around 45 kilometers from downtown Thai Nguyen, Cua Tu is a good place for those who enjoy the adventure of exploring a new place.
However, trekkers should take advice from tour operators or contact local residents to ensure a safe trek.