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Son La

3.0 / 5 15 votes

Country rank: 29 out of 30 Places To Visit In Vietnam

Sub-Region: Northwestern Vietnam


Weather:

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Best time: November - February (Read More)

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Son La Tourism

Son La is a picturesque Vietnamese town hidden amidst towering mountains. The town has a dark past as it played house to one of the most brutal prisons in the world. Today, all that remains is the ruins and a tiny town with ghosts of its past deceptively hidden behind its natural rivers, trees and flowers.

Son La is the perfect hilly retreat, but it also hides a historical secret. A visit to the Son La prison puts on show the brutality of the French colonialists towards the local revolutionaries and communists. The Son La museum houses valuable information about 12 ethnicities that reside in the area and around. Son La also has the largest hydroelectric project in Indochina. Another historical wonder of Son La is the ñQue Lam Ngu Cheî Epitaph erected since 1440 written by King Le Thai Tong. Near the epitaph is a temple built to worship the king. A unique experience you can take part in Son La is living and interacting with ethnic communities. These communities are hospitable and accept tourists with great zeal. Apart from these historical structures, Son La also has an impressive range of pine trees partially covered by the mist that flows around like a white curtain. Son la is indeed a sight for sore eyes!

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The commonly spoken languages in Son La are Vietnamese and French

The Hoa Ban is a white and pink flower that is authentic to the Northwest Vietnam region. It is often considered to be the symbol of Son La. Another prominent symbolism of the Hoa ban is the purity and love of a northwestern Vietnamese girl. The flower blooms in March, at the onset of spring and this is when the festival is held. The ïDien BienÍ ethnic minority celebrates this festival with great pomp. They go on a ïpilgrimageÍ to pick flowers, providing an opportunity for young boys and girls to meet and fall in love. Towards the end of the day, boys blow pan pipes and sound gongs and the girls dance to the tunes.

To Hieu is a prominent revolutionary who played a pivotal role in the Vietnamese liberation from French colonialists. In his last days, he was sentenced to live in the Son la prison. During this period, he was suffering from severe tuberculosis but he refused to give up. He was elected as the Secretary of his PartyÍs Cell and fought for better facilities in the prison. He changed the prison into a ïschoolÍ, teaching the inmates lessons in politics and culture. The French envoy in Son La increased his suppression on the prioners, forcing them to go into a hunger strike. This worsened his condition, however, he held onto hope that the Vietnamese revolution would be successful. He took his last breath on march 7th 1944 and was buried under the peach tree that he had tended to during his time at the prison. The tree still stands tall to this day.

Son La is haunted by the ghosts of dead prisoners. In the early 1930Ís the French colonialists found the Khau Ca hills, a murky area near Son La with extreme weather conditions, and built a prison here. They imprisoned revolutionaries and popular leaders here. The prison was nicknamed ÍHell on EarthÍ, not only because of its extreme weather conditions which made the cells unbearably hot during summer and freezing during winter but also because of the magnitude of torture inflicted on the inmates by the jail officials. The revolutionaries at that time saw the prison as a test of their patriotism and willpower towards their cause.

Son la is a quaint town that goes to sleep early, providing you with a bare minimum of nightlife. Son la has two prominent options to choose from _ Trung Nguyen Caf_ and Karaoke Nice Bar. Both of these club-bars have minimal crowds except during the weekends when the country folk flock to the area. Trung Nguyen is a relaxing caf_ bar with forest like ambience and the best coffee in town. Karaoke Nice bar is for the musically talented to show off their skills.

Son La is not a big shopping destination. It has its own park and local market, selling exotic vegetables, fruits and street food. Exploring these give you a taste of the local culture.

Son La follows the same religious practices as the rest of the Country. Mahayana Buddhism is the prominent religion.

Customs of Son La are largely similar to those of the rest of Northern Vietnam.

The Son la province offers a wide variety of mouthwatering cuisines. Thit Trau Gac Bep (Dried Buffalo Meat served with sweet and spicy sauce and corn wine), Com Lam (rice cooked in bamboo tubes with salt and lemon), Ruou Can (Fermented rice wine with added herbs) are dishes that are authentic to the Son la area. One of the most picturesque and refreshing locations to eat at in Son La is the Bamboo Restaurant. Made entirely out of bamboo sticks and stone, the surrounding jungle offers an ethereal atmosphere to the restaurant. Son La has its own share of street food, centered on the park. Plates loaded with boiled or fried snails garnished with chilli sauce, mangoes and cucumbers is a common sight. There are also plenty of sugarcane stalls.


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Holidify's Opinion

  What's Great?

Enormous historical significance, Ecotourism site

  What's not so Great?

Remote location, Minimal facilities

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How to Reach Son La

Son La is nestled among the mountains, yet it has decent connectivity. Son La has its own international airport. Apart from that, Son La can also be reached by road, either by bus, car or motorbike... (Read More)

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