View of the countryside around Phat Tich Pagoda in Bac Ninh

Bac Ninh

Bac Ninh is a province with small land area in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. The province is home to much of the old culture of Vietnam such as ancient villages, old architectures, Quan Ho Quan Ho folk songs, the unique costumes called Ao Tu Than or Ao The Khan Xep (Long dress with long pants and a head-dress) for men and girls. Nowadays, Bac Ninh is one of the major industrial and economic centers of Vietnam.

Geography
Bac Ninh is bordered to the north by Bac Giang, to the east and south-east by Hai Duong, to the south by Hung Yen, to the west by Hanoi. The terrain of Bac Ninh is mostly flat, it is higher to the north and west and lower to the south and east which defines the directions of the rivers in the province.

Scenic country landscape at Tien Du, Bac NinhScenic country landscape at Tien Du, Bac Ninh

The biggest rivers in Bac Ninh are
- The Duong River (of the Red River system) with 42km in Bac Ninh flows from west to east.
- The Cau River (of the Thai Binh River system) with 69km in Bac Ninh flows from north-west to south-east creating the natural border between Bac Ninh and Bac Giang.
- The Thai Binh River with 16km in Bac Ninh flows from north to south creating the border between Bac Ninh and Hai Duong to the east.
- The Thau and the Bui Rivers creates the border between Bac Ninh and Hai Duong to the south-east.

Golden rice fields at Tien Du, Bac NinhGolden rice fields at Tien Du, Bac Ninh

Bac Ninh has a monsoon tropic climate with temperatures ranging from below 10oC to above 40oC. The hottest months are June and July and the coldest ones are December, January and February. There may be typhoons and torrential rains in July, August, September and October. The annual rainfall is 1,500mm and the average humidity is 81%. The best time to visit Bac Ninh is either in September-October and March-April.

Den Do Bac Ninh
Den Do - Bac Ninh - Vietnam

History
The history of Bac Ninh has much to do with that of Vietnam. The forefather of the Vietnamese, Kinh Duong Vuong, was said from Bac Ninh and his grave is still in Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh. The Chinese invaded Vietnam and made it a province of China in the 2nd century B.C. The capital was at Luy Lau (Thuan Thanh, Bac Ninh nowadays). Back then, the area of Bac Ninh was a part of Giao Chi which was the political, economic and religious center of the whole Giao Chau – the name of the area in northern Vietnam under Chinese rule then. Buddhism was first adopted in Bac Ninh first in 2nd century A.D before introduced to other areas in Vietnam. There was a certain level inter-connection in trade and culture between the land of Bac Ninh and overseas.

Scenic golden rice fields at Tien Du, Bac Ninh
Scenic golden rice fields at Tien Du, Bac Ninh

In the early 10th century A.D, Vietnam got its independence back, the land was ruled by a Vietnamese king. The kingdom soon fell into instability resulted from Chinese invasion. The Chinese rule was short this time, but the kingdom was again contended by different feudal groups.

It was in the early 11th century that the divided Vietnam was re-unified under a Ly King who started a long independence and prosperity period for the kingdom. The Ly king came from a village in Bac Ninh. It was this Ly King who moved the capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Hanoi nowadays.

Quan Ho Bac Ninh
Performance of Quan Ho folk songs at Do Temple Bac Ninh

Legacy & Tourist Attractions in Bac NinhA narry village alley in Bac Ninh
Given its status during the history of Vietnam, Bac Ninh enjoys a rich legacy in architecture, religion and culture which is surely worth your visit while in Vietnam.

There are quite a few traditional handicraft villages such as wood-carving, woodblock printing, old styled furniture, paper making, drum making, bronze wares making.... Traveling to Bac Ninh, you may like to visit:

- Dong Ho Village produces painting using woodblock-printing techniques.
- Dai Bai Village make bronze wares.
- Phu Lang Village makes pottery.
- Xuan Lai Villages makes furniture and decorations using bamboo materials.
- Dong Ky Village makes old-styled wooden furniture.
- Man Xa Village makes aluminum wares.
- Dong Cao Village makes papers.

Bac Ninh is where the oldest pagodas and Vietnamese architecture are found of which the oldest pagoda dates back to 2nd century A.D.
- Dau Pagoda built in 2nd century A.D was where Buddhism was first introduced into Vietnam.
- Phat Tich Pagoda built in 11th century was a major Buddhist center in Vietnam.
- Tieu Son Pagoda built in 10th century was where Ly Cong Uan (the first Ly King) was brought up.

Village culture is the fundamental unit of the Vietnamese culture. Much of a village life can be learned from the community house. There are still some well preserved old community houses with lovely atmosphere and architecture in Bac Ninh: Dinh Bang Community House, Tam Dao Community House.

Gate of Tan Hong Community House
Gate of Tan Hong Community House in Bac Ninh Province

Another wonderful and important attraction which should not be missed on a tour to Bac Ninh is Den Do Temple which is dedicated to the 8 Kings of the Ly Dynasty. The temple is at Dinh Bang Village, home village of the Ly Family.

Visiting the Do Temple and Tam Tao Community House, you can sample the lyrical rhythms of the Quan Ho Folk Songs performed by local singers. Quan Ho Folk Songs are listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.

Tilling vegetable farms in Bac Ninh
Tilling vegetable farms in Bac Ninh, a scene on our bike tours through Bac Ninh

Travel and Tours in Bac Ninh
Bac Ninh is definitely recommended for a day trip from Ha Noi either by car, by bike or by motorbike. Alternatively you can have a 2-day tour to Bac Ninh staying overnight with a local family.

Making ceramic vases at Phu Lang Village
Making ceramic vases at Phu Lang Village in Bac Ninh

From Ha Noi you can take a day trip to Bac Ninh to visit the handicraft villages or the old pagodas or to sample lifestyle in the countryside of the Red River Delta and enjoy Quan Ho folk songs performed by locals.

Paradissa, a Vietnam tour operator with our branch in Bac Ninh, offers different cultural tours to Bac Ninh and the Do Temple including leisurely cycling tours and easy sightseeing tours. Our tours to Bac Ninh takes a full day or half a day from Hanoi. Longer tours and luxury travel in Bac Ninh can be organized upon request.

Kinh Duong Vuong Temple at Bac Ninh Vietnam
The Temple dedicated to Kinh Duong Vuong - the Vietnamese first-known ancestor at Bac Ninh Vietnam

Accommodation
There are many hotels in Bac Ninh province ranging from hotels with basic amenities to luxury 5* hotels. The huge demands for Bac Ninh are thanks to the fast growing industrial zones in the province. This is a huge number of foreign experts and businessmen investing and doing business in Bac Ninh nowadays. The good hotels are in Bac Ninh City and Tu Son Town.

A breathtaking lotus lake at Thuan Thanh, Bac Ninh
A breathtaking lotus lake at Thuan Thanh, Bac Ninh

 

A lady working to work on her vegetable farm in Bac Ninh
A lady working to work on her vegetable farm in Bac Ninh

Getting there and away
By road: From Ha Noi you can hire a motorbike and drive yourself or hire a car to explore Bac Ninh in one day. You drive along Road No.1A, and after 20km, you come to the territory of Bac Ninh. There are many handicraft villages as well as old pagodas and old architecture that are close to this road.