Son La

Located in the northern part of Vietnam, Son La is a city that should definitely be on every traveler's radar. The city, which is situated about 320km northwest of Hanoi, is often used as a half-way overnight stop on the way to Dien Bien Phu. While there may not be a lot to remark about the town itself, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider spending a bit of time here.

Ang hamlet Moc Chau Son La
Ang Hamlet pine forest

For starters, Son La is home to a former prison that was built in 1908 by the French colonialists to incarcerate Vietnamese political prisoners. Today, the prison has been turned into a museum that preserves revolutionary remains and exhibits precious objects introducing the historical and cultural traditions of the 12 ethnic groups living in Son La. It's an important site for anyone interested in learning more about the country's history.

In addition to the prison museum, there are plenty of other interesting things to see and do in Son La. For example, Tham Tet Toong Cave is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers. Stretching out 150m long, the cave is a wonder of nature, with numerous stalactites and stalagmites lining its walls.

Another fascinating place to visit is Hin Hamlet, a hamlet that is home to the Thai ethnic minority. Here, visitors can enjoy drinking ruou can and watching xoe dance performances by Thai women. You may also want to check out the Yen Chau Site, where you can try special bananas, longans, and mangoes.

dai yem waterfall son la
Dai Yen waterfall

If you happen to be in Son La during the 2nd lunar month, be sure to check out the Ban Flowers Festival. This festival celebrates the blooming of the ban flowers, which blanket the mountains in white. During the festival, boys and girls go flower picking to celebrate the spring and entertain themselves by singing, playing tinh and khen flutes, and dancing xoe.

Getting to Son La is relatively easy. The town is 328km from Hanoi and connects to Hoa Binh by National Highway No. 6, Yen Bai by Highway No.37, and Lao Cai by Highway No.279.