The northeastern mountain district of Bac Son in Lang Son province is home to many historical sites and charming landscapes. Local people are still practicing their age-old traditions that vividly reflect Vietnamese identities.
The entrance to the Hang Hu tangerine orchard (Photo: baodansinh.vn)
This is also the location of the Bac Son uprising that took place in 1940 during the war against French colonialism. Bac Son district has many interesting tourist sites, ideal for developing community tourism.
When talking about Bac Son district, tangerine might be the first thing that come to mind. Before each Lunar New Year festival, tourists can feast their eyes on the bright yellow ripe Bac Son tangerine. According to local people, the tangerine that grows on rocky mountains taste the best. However, not everyone is lucky enough to enjoy this type of Bac Son tangerine because productivity is quite limited.
Hang Hu, in Hoa Phong 1 village, Chien Thang commune, is one of the most famous tangerine orchards in Bac Son district. This garden is always packed with tourists.
The trees at Hang Hu garden are all a few decades old. To get to this tangerine garden, visitors have to climb up mountain cliffs at an altitude of five to seven meters, then follow a narrow path of stone steps lined with purple jasmine flowers. At the end of the small path, a valley with hundreds of fruitful tangerine trees await you.
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lan, the garden’s owner, explained how this garden came to life "My parents had many children. We didn’t have land to live on so my husband and I reclaimed this area to settle down and initially grow potatoes, gingers, and galangals, among other plants.
One day, my husband working for a local post station brought home two kilograms of this tangerine then we started planting them here. I reaped fruits from the first tree in front of my house which tasted amazing. Then we decided to broaden our cultivation area. We take great care of them and luckily for us, I think the soil and weather here is perfect for this species of tangerine.”
Growing in valleys and rocky ravines with fresh air and a cool climate, the tangerine trees grow really well with little care. Owner Lan further elaborated “I fertilize the trees three times a year between January and May. In the old days, I had to hoe the ground, but now I don’t. We’ve been planting them here for 33 years. Recently, improved transport infrastructure have made it easier for traders to come to our garden to buy fruits, around a ton at a time.”
According to local people, the mouth-watering taste of the Bac Son yellow tangerine is attributed to the open, fertile land at an altitude of 500-700 meters above sea level, and red brown or yellow soil mostly found in tropical rain forests. Currently, Bac Son district has more than 630 hectares of tangerine, 420 hectares of which have been producing fruit.
The annual yield is 1,700 tons, generating approximately 2,000 dollars for farmers. They have been benefiting not only from their tangerine gardens, but also from the visitors they attract.
Mrs. Lan added "We used to hinge on this tangerine garden to earn money. One day, the communal authorities visited us and asked us to get involved in community tourism activities. My husband and children were interested in this idea then we went ahead with that to be part of a pilot community tourism program. This garden has been opened for tourists for around three years. To be honest, we have gained higher profits from tourism than from tangerine farming."
Visitors climb up the mountain to the Hang Hu tangerine orchard. (Photo: baodansinh.vn)
Visitors are invited to stroll around the orchard, pick fruit themselves, and try the tangerines right on the spot. Tourist Nguyen Lan Mai said, “When I peel off this tangerine, it smells so good. I’ve already known about the Bac San tangerine. This is my first time here. The fruits are juicy and gently sweet with just a bit of a sour taste.
Recently, the Bac Son district People’s Committee started a festival with a variety of activities to promote Bac Son yellow tangerine brand and tourism orchards. They welcomed 12,000 visitors in 2019.
Bright yellow tangerines of Hang Hu orchards. (Photo: baodansinh.vn)
Now let’s continue with more things aside from tangerines that Hang Hu has to offer. There are two mountain peaks, Tam Linh (Spirit) and Cot Co (Flag Pole), accessible from the Hang Hu tangerine orchard and perfect for those who love trekking.
Duong Thi Kim Phuong of Bac Son district said, "There are stone steps so it’s not hard to climb to the top. There are so many fruit trees along the way. I live in Bac Son district but this is the first time I have reached these mountain peaks, making a bird-eye view possible. The scenery is really stunning."
The flag pole is seen among mountain peaks (Photo: baodansinh.vn)
If you have time, give both peaks a shot, but if you don’t, try one and admire the other from afar. It’s enough to feel the full experience of this place. It takes 15 minutes to climb from the tangerine orchard to the Tam Linh peak. Locals have placed rock steps to make it easier to reach the top.
Le Ngoc Thong, a lecturer of the Hanoi-based National Economics University, said “The trip to Hang Hu really makes my day. I’m here in a gloomy afternoon but the local hospitality and natural landscapes have brightened me up. I fall in love with the scrumptious tangerines, the captivating sightseeing, and the fresh, cool breeze.”