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Exploring Ngoc Chien Tourism Potential

Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2016

About 40 km northeast of Muong La, Ngoc Chien commune of Muong La district, Son La province has ideal natural conditions, majestic and pristine landscape. Located at an altitude of nearly 1,000 metres, Ngoc Chien is cool throughout the year. With warm mineral-water brooks, century-old stilted houses made from Fokienia timbers where the Thai ethnic group and Mong ethnic group gather for community affairs, Ngoc Chien is endowed with favourable conditions for tourism development: ecological, leisure, adventure and community-based tourism. Notably, tourists can find natural medical therapies here.
Besides, Ngoc Chien features Muong Chien flat fertile plains stretching nearly 350 hectares where a peculiar, delicious sticky rice variety called Nep Tan is grown. Villagers also grow flowers for lowland provinces such as lily and rose in addition to potato, harvested about 30 tonnes per hectare, and other vegetables. The commune also has over 300 hectares of medlar trees (Docynia indica) yielding more than 1,000 tonnes of fruits a year and 12,000 hectares of primary forests with rare woods such as Fokienia and Cunninghamia; and rare animals like the langur - a endangered species. Above all, in the middle of pristine mountains, tourists will have the chance to immerse themselves in natural hot mineral water to take a leisurely rest after a discovery tour.
Visiting Ngoc Chien, visitors not only have the chance to admire the majestic beauty of nature but also sense the beauty of villages equivocally hidden inside the jungle, mist-covered trails, view shimmering dew drops in the morning sunlight on red poinsettia blossoms or stretch their eyes on interconnected terraced fields on the hillsides, and to breathe fresh air.
Villagers still retain locally distinctive customs and traditions. Houses where the Thai people live are entirely made from Fokienia woods in a sophisticated wooden architecture. A typical house has one floor, roofed by century-lasting Fokienia timbers in four directions, and a small quadrangle cellar in the upper left. The well-arranged house has a lot of chambers, characteristically connected each other by a chessboard-styled walkway. This house architecture is totally different from houses resided by other Thai villages in the northwest. The natural landscape of Ngoc Chien remains largely intact. Environment and climate are ideal for travellers seeking a fresh hideaway. Here, they can enjoy unique cuisines of hill-tribe peoples characteristically cooked by the native, sip ‘can’ wine (drunk with a long pipe) in the flickering flame and watch dances performed by Thai boys and girls.
We dropped on Mr Lo Van Chinh’s house - the owner of a popular hot spring bathing facility in Luot village. Seeing us, he welcomed with alacrity into his house arranged neatly and nicely. Right from the first sight, we sensed the warmth, friendliness and hospitality of people here. He treated us with warm green tea he picked from ancient tea trees in the mountains. We sipped tea and chatted together. He said, “More and more visitors come to Ngoc Chien every day, both Vietnamese and foreigners. They come here to learn about cultural identity, explore mountain caves and take a bath in hot springs served by my family. Luot village has two arts companies performing during local rites and serving visitors’ requests. We see the satisfaction with the friendliness and hospitality of villagers on the face of all visitors.”
Every year, the number of tourist arrivals to Son La hydropower plant increases significantly, but access to Ngoc Chien is difficult because the traffic route from Muong La to Ngoc Chien is often badly damaged by rains. In recent years, Ngoc Chien has attracted a lot of tourists from Yen Bai who follow National Highway 32. The direction is very convenient. Previously, the traffic from Ngoc Chien to Mu Cang Chai was very hard on 3 km of earth road. “Up to now, with the support of the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People’s Committee, the People’s Committee of Muong La district built a State-funded road, costing VND11.95 billion, from Ngoc Chien to Mu Cang Chai district, Yen Bai province according to Decision 1560/QD-UBND dated July 17, 2015. This road will open up numerous economic and social development advantages for Ngoc Chien in particular and Son La province in general as it will help draw more travellers on Hanoi - Mu Cang Chai - Ngoc Chien - Dien Bien route,” said Mr Phan Tien Dien, Vice Chairman of Muong La District People’s Committee.
Mr Duong Minh Binh, community tourism expert, said, Ngoc Chien is hugely potential for developing community tourism in combination with medical tourism and spa treatment because it has hot-water springs in Luot village where tourists can restore health and beauty. This is an extremely valuable natural endowment for Ngoc Chien. He highly valued the cultural identity unique to Ngoc Chien. After working on the farm, villagers gather in the brook to have a bath. They talk happily about their stories, wash away dirt, throw away everyday concerns and tiredness and come home with a purity of mentality where they live happily with their family. He proposed local authorities to preserve and promote traditional cultural values unique to this land to make Ngoc Chien a popular community tourism destination with medicinal and spa service being highlighted.
Vu Hoai

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