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Thac Ba Lake, Vietnam’s next “in” destination
ChandraGarran04 16-04-2022, 06:00

“Ha Long Bay on land”

Thac Ba is a vast man-made lake resulting from construction of the Thac Ba Hydropower Plant in Yen Bani Province. It consists of more than 1,300 islands with lush green forest and diverse ecosystems and is dubbed the “Ha Long Bay on Land”, after the north eastern Vietnamese bay world renowned for its towering limestone islands topped by green trees. Visitors to Thac Ba are also exposed to countless green tree islands dotting the calm blue waters.

The first destination of any excursion to the lake is the Thac Ba Hydropower Plant, the first hydroelectric project in Vietnam. Visitors can combine a visit to the hydropower plant with a visit to Thac Ba Temple located on Hoang Thi Mountain with a view of Chay River and Cao Bien Mountain. Thac Ba temple was recognized as a provincial cultural and historical relic in 2004.

Just up the Chay River, visitors can stop at the Luc Yen Pearl Land with its many famous landmarks, such as Chua Sao Cave and Dai Cai Temple, and admire the magnificent gemstone paintings made by local craftsmen.

When night falls, visitors will have a chance to sit around campfires and enjoy folk songs and local food specialties such as bamboo-tube rice, banana blossom salad, chicken soup with sour bamboo shoots, fish salad and shrimp salad made by the Tay, Nung, Dao and Cao Lan ethnic groups.

Accommodations are available at local residents’ houses in Ngoi Tu Village, affording visitors a closer look at the lifestyle and culture of the indigenous people with their nature reserves, primary forests and golden terraced rice fields.

According to tour guide Dinh Van Phuong, the best time to visit Thac Ba Lake is summer because of the cool, fresh weather. However, visitors should be careful on rainy days, when huge amounts of water pour into the lake, closing off some water tourism routes.

Multi-pronged development

Recently, the government issued Decision 234/QD-TTg, approving a master plan for the development of the Thac Ba Lake national tourism site by 2040. Under the plan, the area will cover about 53,000 hectares, including a total water surface area and the surroundings of two districts, Yen Binh and Luc Yen in Yen Bai province. Activities will include eco-tourism, leisure tourism, MICE tourism, heritage tourism, and cultural tourism.

The planning of Thac Ba Lake national tourism site calls for integration of tourism development with sustainable rural and urban areas; the promotion of natural values and traditional culture; the safety of the hydropower plant’s reservoir; climate change response; disaster prevention; environmental protection; improved living conditions for local residents. These aspects are expected to attract investment and trade as well as tourism development at national level. By 2030, the population at this site is expected to reach around 260,000 and 300,000 by 2040. The site will attract around one million visitors by 2030 and 2.5 million by 2040.

The prime minister has requested that authorities make the most of the site’s potential such as its natural landscape, ecosystems, cultural identity, intangible cultural value, religious values, and multimodal transportation. In addition, it is necessary to study the impact of the Hanoi-Lao Cai expressway, National Highway 70, National Highway 37, National Highway 2D, on planning and developmental orientation, as well as the relationship between tourism development at Thac Ba Lake and other tourist destinations in Yen Bai Province, the northern midlands and mountainous area to create tourism chains.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Ngoi Tu village (Vu Linh commune, Yen Binh District) welcomed several hundred groups of visitors each year. Most of the arrivals were from Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, and Australia.

Thanh Tam