Located approximately 40 km away from Hanoi’s city center, Duong Lam Ancient Village in Son Tay Town is often referred to as a precious gem or gold mine for tourism in Vietnam’s capital city.
A hub of creative spaces
|A foreign traveler took a photo at artist Tan Phat’s lacquer studio in Duong Lam Ancient Village, Son Tay Town, Hanoi. Photo courtesy of the artist
According to Le Dai Thang, the deputy chairman of Son Tay Town People’s Committee, the town has witnessed tourism development in recent years, with the introduction of various new models and destinations such as Son Tay Ancient Citadel Pedestrian Zone, Khai Nguyen Pagoda, Mang Son Temple in Son Dong Commune, Son Tay Temple of Literature in Duong Lam Commune, Doai Creative, and Phat Studio in Duong Lam Ancient Village. The town also boasts luxury resorts like Tomodachi Retreat – Lang Mit or Glory Resort.
However, Duong Lam has managed to retain its ancient characteristics. Many Duong Lam locals have chosen to build creative spaces that contribute to the development of community-based tourism in their homeland.
Nguyen Tan Phat, famous for his artistry and recently bestowed the title of artisan, strongly supports the management of Duong Lam Ancient Village and his fellow townsfolk by implementing a creative space model since March 2023. The opportunity to experience the traditional craft stages has increased the number of visitors by 30% compared to last year. To date, the village has welcomed approximately 120 thousand tourists this year.
“Through these traditional crafts, we aim to preserve and promote the cultural values of our country. Given our understanding that tourism is one of the strengths of Duong Lam and Son Tay, this is also my way of enriching the local offerings,” said painter-craftsman Phat, expressing his passion for the cause.
|Visitors to Duong Lam Village also love experiencing the local cuisine. Photo: Hong Thuy
Konrad Bauer from France shared his affinity for the creative space, stating, “It’s vibrant, and I’d love to stay longer in the village.” Similarly, Le Hoang Tra My, a Vietnamese student from Mainz, Germany, expressed her enjoyment after personally experiencing lacquer making at artist Nguyen Tan Phat’s studio. She said, “I love this activity. It’s very exciting and allows for creativity. My friends who joined me felt the same way.”
“By designing creative spaces and offering experiential farming activities, we hope to create personalized and immersive experiences for our visitors. This is one of our upcoming development strategies. Building on this foundation, we anticipate a greater love for Duong Lam Ancient Village, fostering its preservation and promotion,” stated Nguyen Dang Thao, Head of Duong Lam Ancient Village Management Board.
|The creative space of Dori Studio in Duong Lam Village designed by Thai architect Oopatham Ratanasupa. Photo courtesy of the artist
He further emphasized that Duong Lam’s unique rural culture has captivated the hearts and minds of many international visitors, driving them to contribute to its preservation. One Thai artist, in particular, has been painting pictures of the ancient village for the past decade. Conservationists and the people of Duong Lam take great pride in their homeland, firmly believing that they will continue preserving and promoting its culture and tourism.
Engage in community cultural activities
After strolling through the ancient village, admiring the village gate shaded by ancient banyan trees, tile-roofed houses, and serene communal houses, tourists often make a stop at the rural market situated at the entrance of Mong Phu Village. Here, they are introduced to local activities and can savor rustic snacks. Delicacies like Che lam, peanut candy, banh gai, banh te, and banh nep allure visitors, while the vendors greet them with a warm and welcoming smile.
|The old house belonging to Ha Huu The’s family in Duong Lam village is over 300 years old. Photo: Thanh Quyen
Recently, locals have capitalized on the village’s ingredients to create delectable and elegant dishes that are showcased during the Lotus Festival. These dishes utilize the lotus plant as an ingredient or for wrapping. As more tourists flock to Duong Lam, the demand for the village’s traditional cuisine has surged. Many households have started offering culinary experience services within their ancient houses and sprawling gardens, attracting numerous visitors.
In particular, Duong Lam Ancient Village boasts an abundance of time-honored houses that have stood firm for centuries. One such house is owned by Ha Huu The’s family, which has been a witness to over 300 years of history and still retains its typical Vietnamese village architectural style.
According to The, the house was built during the Later Le Dynasty, adorned with bronze drum carvings. It comprises seven rooms and two lean-tos beneath a dragon-shaped roof. Traditionally, ancient houses had an odd number of compartments, seven being the largest. The roofs were built relatively low to protect the wooden parts from rain and wind damage. Visitors were expected to bow slightly to greet the homeowner or honor the departed family members.
|The nostalgic scenery of Duong Lam Village. Photo: Cap Thu Ha
“Thirteen generations have been born and raised here, living together under the same roof passed down by our ancestors. Living customs and family traditions have been handed down from one generation to the next. Neither I nor many other owners of ancient houses in Duong Lam could fathom parting with them,” The expressed proudly.
Thang mentioned that, aside from developing and enhancing the quality of existing tourism products, Son Tay Town has collaborated with the Hanoi Tourism Department and tourism entities to launch new and captivating offerings. These include an electric car service for tourists in the city, Duong Lam tourism during the rice ripening season, flower cultivation sites for picturesque photography, old village cafes, as well as various initiatives aimed at preserving and reviving the Sugarcane Chicken breed, Cam Lam tea, fermented soybean paste, and traditional sweets.
In the near future, Duong Lam Ancient Village management plans to introduce additional experiential models such as cloth weaving, traditional costume sewing, rattan weaving, and nocturnal culinary experiences. These endeavors intend to offer more joy and smiles to visitors.
Son Tay, a suburban town of Hanoi, boasts 244 relics and hundreds of ancient houses, along with many renowned tourist attractions such as Va Temple, Son Tay Ancient Citadel, Duong Lam Ancient Village, and Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism.
The town currently has two destinations acknowledged by the Hanoi People’s Committee as tourist attractions: the Ancient Village in Duong Lam and the Long Ho Village Tourist Attraction in Kim Son Commune.
For the 2025-2030 period, the town aims to become one of the capital’s most prominent tourist destinations.