Bac Son has one of the most beautiful valley in Vietnam yet remains unknown to foreigners.
Bac Son is a rural town, the main street is where the intercity buses pass and the shops are located. Few meters away from it the landscape changes to a more rural one very pleasant with rice fields and mountains in the horizon. You can climb Na Lay Peak to get a breath taking scenery.
There is nothing to do in the town. The whole visit takes a few hours -lets say 6-. There is no need to spend the night here but those who want to can do it and get a more local experience where not many foreigners stay.
Where to sleep in Bac Son
- Duong Cong Chich Homestay: traditional and cheap.
- Homestay Bac Son: another similar option.
Na Lay Peak
Na Lay Peak or Bac Son Viewpoint is the main reason -or the only one- for visiting Bac Son. The amazing panoramic view here overlooks one of the most beautiful valleys in all Vietnam.
Get to the start of the trail by walking from the main street or take a xe om (moto taxi) which is not easy to find.
The trail to the peak is a steep hike somewhat maintained with no difficulties other than the pain to your legs and some long steps. I recommend to bring stuff to do a small picnic at the top. Don’t forget water -one liter per person, two if you do the picnic-.
On the peak there is an old telecommunication building with a very easy to recognize tower. From its base you can see the valley but the best is climb to the roof of the building to get a 180 degree view to both sides of the valley. Is not so easy but not imposible. I got to this point. Lastly you can climb to the next roof to get a 380 degree view which is lot more difficult.
The trail starts at 400 masl it only 650m long to the peak located at 640 masl. I recommend 2 hours to climb, 30-60 minutes at the top and 30 to climb down. If your are in bad shape add 1 or 2 more hours.
How to get to Bac Son
Getting to Bac Son is the hard part. There is not much information nor regular tours.
- Thai Nguyen-Lang Son route is run by local buses connecting these two cities passing through Bac Son.
- Northern Loop is the most recommended. It combines the previous route into a longer loop that covers the whole north of the country in the most efficient way with some adventure.
- From Hanoi: in a “tour” (basically a private taxi) is the most easy but expensive and it waste too much time in transportation. Not recommended.
- Regular tours: there isn’t. Some 3-4 days tours on the north of Vietnam include Bac Son but is very difficult to find those.
Thai Nguyen-Lang Son route
There are some variables but the following is the best -it can also be done in the opposite direction-.
The first step is to get to Thai Nguyen. You can take direct buses from Hanoi or from Cao Bang (Ban Gioc Waterfalls) if you are doing the Northern Loop. From Thai Nguyen you have to catch the local bus going to Lang Son that passes through Bac Son. There is no bus station in Bac Son, the stops are done along the main street every few hundred meters. Keep an eye on your GPS to get off near the start of the trail to Na Lay Peak.
There are two options for leaving town.
If you are doing the Northern Loop -or just extending your trip- take the local bus to Lang Son where you can transfer to Halong Bay and more.
If you are coming back to Hanoi trace back your steps to Thai Nguyen.
Both sides of the route are pretty.
Both cities are not recommended for spending the night unless you are forced too.