Mộc Châu Plateau with endless evergreen tea hills and peach and plum blossoms whenever spring arrives is very popular with backpackers. However, there is another address for adventurers to discover if they want to explore more of the northern mountainous province of Sơn La. It is Vân Hồ District, with amazing, majestic, and typical features of Việt Nam’s northwestern region.
Bright green: Chiềng Yên Commune has the quiet and stunning beauty of a typical mountainous area. — VNS Photo Mộc Miên
Tạt Nàng Waterfall
When visiting Vân Hồ, tourists should not miss the chance to admire Tạt Nàng Waterfall in Phụ Mẫu I Village, Chiềng Yên Commune. From the crossroads in an old jungle which is 20km from Đồng Bảng intersection, tourists have to walk more than 7 km on rugged roads and paths to reach the centre of the commune and the waterfall.
Hiding behind the terraced paddy fields, Tạt Nàng Waterfall flows all year round. It is a source of water for the paddy fields and food for thought for far-away visitors. Parking their vehicle on the road, tourists should take a small lane, 150 - 200m long, to be able to admire the stunning scenery.
The waterfall is where the Tà Xẩm and Tà Piu streams meet. They run from Phụ Mẫu 2 village to Phụ Mẫu 1 village. It is more than 100m high with three levels, surrounded by greenery. Coming here, visitors can immerse themselves in the sound of running water and bird songs.
The name of the waterfall comes from a sad love story when the region was established. A long time ago, there was a girl whose mother died. Feeling sorry for the daughter, her father stayed alone and brought her up. The more she grew, the more beautiful she became. All the men in the region fell for her, and sought her hand in marriage. But she loved a man whose family was in a long-lasting feud with hers. So their love was strongly protested by the two families and they could not be together.
The happy girl gradually became depressed and started to die inside. One day, while her father was at work, she wore her most beautiful clothes to the mountain, and killed herself in the waterfall.
And so Tạt Nàng Waterfall was named. In the Thai language, tạt means waterfall while nàng indicates a beautiful woman. Today, tourists come to enjoy the cool and pure water and listen to stories about the legendary lovers.
In the clouds: Conquering Mt Pha Luông is a challenge for many trekkers. — VNS Photo Mộc Miên
Conquering Mt Pha Luông
Trekking Mt Pha Luông is not as difficult as other mountains in the North. But the road leading to the border guard station where trekkers often gather together to kick off the journey is really tough. The very small and rugged roads running from one mountain to another really challenges any trekkers. Although the road is just 10km long, it normally takes walkers around 3 hours to reach the border guard station and have some food before getting to the top of the mountain.
The road to Mt Pha Luông is very interesting. Hikers have the chance to admire the amazing changes of nature along the road. They may have to bend their body to go through the bamboo forest, or they can see with the own eyes the romantic scenery of the maple forest like in a real movie.
It is very common for trekkers to cling on to tree branches to steady themselves. They often find it slippery to walk on stones and sometimes they can trip and fall. After about 4 hours, everyone is astonished at the sea of clouds. For many trekkers, this is the first time they have seen such an amazing sight, and many want to dive right in.
Mt Pha Luông is not only a place to see a majestic sea of clouds, but is also the natural border between Việt Nam and Laos. From the top, trekkers can see the road leading to Laos, the landmark through which the border guards patrol every day.
Take a dip: Chiềng Yên Hot Spring is one reason why local women have great skin. — VNS Photo Mộc Miên
Chiềng Yên Hot Spring
Chiềng Yên Hot Spring is very different from others of its kind. It is not planned as a professional service area. The hot spring runs from the mountain with an average temperature of 35°- 40° Celsius. It is embanked to create a 50m2 pool for people to have a hot bath. Both men and women in the village will share the same pool here. And it is also for tourists. It is the hot spring that provides local women with white skin, black hair, and attractive figures.
If the tourists spend a day conquering Mt Pha Luông, they are advised to enjoy the hot spring to ease their pain and complete the journey to the mountain.—VNS