Lang Son riverside
Lang Son riverside

Lang Son

Lang Son Province is located in the North-East of Vietnam, sharing the border with Cao Bang Province to the north, with China to the east, with Quang Ninh to the southeast, with Bac Giang to the south and with Thai Nguyen and Bac Kan Provinces to the west.

The terrain of Lang Son is composed of mostly medium mountains. The highest peak is Phia Me, 1,541m above sea level, which belongs to Mau Son Mountain. The terrain altitudes are not consistent with different trends but it is mostly higher to the north and lower to the south.

 Lang Son City Vietnam
The idyllic riverside of Lang Son City Vietnam

There are 5 big river systems in Lang Son: Ky Cung, Thuong, Luc Nam, Nam Luoi – Dong Quy (discharging its water into the Tien Yen – Ba Che River) and Na Lang. The Ky Cung River is the biggest river in Lang Son (243km) and among the strangest rivers in Vietnam: it flows “backwards”. The course of the river is from southeast to the northwest, then it makes a curve near That Khe (Trang Dinh) to flow southeastwards into China. This is strange for the general direction of the terrain in Vietnam is from northwest to the southeast and most rivers flow following this direction.

  The center of Lang Son City
The center of Lang Son City

The Thuong River starts in the southwest of Lang Son Province and flows into Bac Giang Province. This is a river of the Thai Binh River System in North Vietnam. The Luc Nam River starts in Dinh Lap (Lang Son) and flows into Bac Giang. This is another river of the Thai Binh River System.

Lang Son has a tropical monsoon climate with normally cooler climate and less rainfall than most provinces in northern Vietnam. Lang Son along with Cao Bang and Bac Kan are the first provinces in Vietnam getting hit by the northeasterly monsoon which causes the winter in North Vietnam. The winter in these provinces are longer than the rest of Vietnam. The temperatures range from 28-35oC in the summer (May-July) and 10-18oC in the winter (December-February). The average annual rainfall is 1,200-1,600mm. The average humidity is 80-85%.

Scenic mountains at Binh Gia, Lang Son, Vietnam
Scenic mountains at Binh Gia, Lang Son, Vietnam

Lang Son is home to several ethnic groups: Nung (43.9%), Tay (35.3%), Kinh (15.3%), Dao (3.5%), the rest is Hoa, San Chay, Mong and others which account for 1.4% of the provincial population.

Lang Son is by far only a stop-over for travellers on a journey to or back from Cao Bang and Bac Kan Provinces, while the province and the city itself deserve more time.

Tourist attractions and what to see in Lang Son

Considered to be a low-key destination in Vietnam, those who love straying off from the crowds and who love mountains may find great time in Lang Son with the below attractions.

1/Mau Son Mountain with peaks of over 1,541m above sea level, which was built into a hill station by the French, is getting to be a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists nowadays. People travel to Mau Son in the summer to get away from the delta heat and during the cold winter for observing snow.

Mau Son Mountain, Lang Son Province
Mau Son Mountain - Lang Son Province

2/The city of Lang Son is a scenic one. Though it's a huge commercial hub between Vietnam and China, Lang Son City still has the tranquility and freshness that not many cities in Vietnam have. There are the Nhi Thanh and Tam Thanh Caves in town and the To Thi Mountain with remaining walls of the former Mac Citadel (16th century). You could easily spend a whole day touring the caves and to have a hiking trip around the To Thi Mountain. From the peak of the mountain, you will be charmed by the panoramic views of the city surrounded by green mountains.

 Ky Lua night market in Lang Son City
Ky Lua night market in Lang Son City

3/The mountains of Huu Lung, Chi Lang, Na Sam, That Khe… which are historical sites where you can learn about the great battles where the Vietnamese fought against foreign invaders. That Khe former French Stronghold and Route 4A were sites of major battles during the Franco – Viet Minh War. Dong Dang Fortress was the site of a fierce battle against the Chinese invaders in 1979.

The Historical route 4 from Lang Son to Cao Bang
The Historical route 4 from Lang Son to Cao Bang (Colonial Route 4 - RC4)

4/Bac Son Valley is in Bac Son District which is 150km from Hanoi via Thai Nguyen and Route 1B, and 80km west of Lang Son City. Bac Son Valley is a lovely photogenic spot and is extremely popular during the golden rice seasons (early July) and late September – early October.

Bac Son Valley, Lang Son, Vietnam
Bac Son Valley, Lang Son, Vietnam

Tours and holidays in Lang Son

The mountainous landscape of Lang Son which is inhabited by a number of ethnic minorities makes it a huge potential for adventure tours like trekking tours, homestay tours and mountain bike tours.

Na Sam Town, Lang Son Province
Na Sam Town, Lang Son Province

Paradissa hosts adventure tours to Lang Son and the North-East of Vietnam, 1-day historical tours to the Chi Lang Passage and Lang Son City from Hanoi, battlefield tours to visit the sites of major battles in the Vietnamese history, photography tours to the Bac Son Valley.

Tourist infrastructure in Lang Son has improved dramatically and except for those on hiking tours with Paradissa, you’ll mostly get boutique luxury travel services in Lang Son City.

Road to the Chinese border from Lang Son City
Road to the Chinese border from Lang Son City

Hotels and Restaurants in Lang Son
Recently, there are many new 3-star and 4-star hotels in Lang Son which may make your stay here more of a luxury experience. There are several restaurants which cater to tourists now that you’ll have good time tasting different dishes in the city. Lang Son is where you’ll find the strongest Chinese influence in local food.

How to get there and how to travel around Lang Son
The provincial capital of Lang Son is Lang Son City, 150km northeast of Hanoi via Route 1A, 130km south of Cao Bang via Route 4A. The roads are all in good conditions nowadays.

Alternatively you can catch an old train from Hanoi to Lang Son on a rocky journey which takes 4-5 hours.