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Jun 05, 2024 / 10:01

48 hours in Soc Son District

Located about 30km from downtown Hanoi, Soc Son is an ideal destination for a day or two-day overnight trip over the weekend or holidays.

Set on the outskirts of Hanoi, Soc Son boasts a diverse landscape ranging from hills and mountains to plains, rivers and lakes. The large forested area provides plenty of fresh air, making it the perfect place for a short getaway.

It takes travelers less than an hour to reach the district from Hanoi. This may be a suggestion for holidaymakers who are put off by long distances.

 Travelers kayaking on Dong Do Lake. Photo: Do Hoa  

Day 1: Morning

Tourists leaving Hanoi take the road to Noi Bai International Airport via the Nhat Tan Bridge and then National Route 3. The road offers comfort and beautiful views, but be aware of the speed limits.

The first must-see attraction is the Saint Giong Monument on the top of Soc Mountain in Phu Linh Commune. Built in 2010 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi, the sculpture commemorates the exploits of Phu Dong Thien Vuong - a genie in Vietnamese legend. The site is also a popular destination for pilgrims at the beginning of the year.

The monument is at an altitude of about 300 meters. There are three ways to get there, including an asphalt road and two small stone-paved paths for those who enjoy mountaineering.

About five kilometers from the monument, for the convenience of travelers, there is a café-restaurant called Blue Valley Cafe & Bistro.

The restaurant is spacious and relaxing, and it has been described as a 'miniature Dalat'. Likely to appeal to young visitors and families, this place is photogenic enough for a photo opportunity.

As well as drinks, the menu includes European-style lunch dishes such as beef steaks, spaghetti, barbecued ribs, fried salmon, and chips. Popular Vietnamese dishes such as hot pot and barbecue are also on offer.

 The giant statue of Saint Giong on top of Soc mountain, Soc Son district, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Hung/The Hanoi Times

Day 1: Afternoon and evening

In the surrounding area of Soc Son, hundreds of homestay villas and wooden houses await tourists. In recent years, these accommodations have proliferated in number, style, and price, ranging from three million to nearly 20 million dongs per night, depending on the quality and number of rooms available. 

As with most services, weekdays are cheaper than weekends. Visitors can choose from Amaya Home, Blue Mountain Villa, The Moonlight Villa, U Lesa Retreat, Doi Llum, and many more.

Spend the afternoon relaxing at the lodge. Most of these lodgings have swimming pools and various games for children. In the evening, each group can get together to prepare a barbecue dinner. Visitors can bring their food or book a full catering service. Travelers should also negotiate an agreement for cleaning and dishwashing costs.

 Amaya Home in Son Son District. Photo courtesy of the homestay

Day 2: Morning  

Get up early for some fresh air. Go for a walk or jog around Keo Ca Lake, Dong Quan Lake, or, further afield, Dong Do Lake. After your workout, breakfast will be ready at your accommodation.

End the morning at Thanh Chuong's Viet Palace, next to Keo Ca Lake in Hien Ninh commune. This is one of the district's most prominent landmarks, so your trip would be incomplete without a visit to this sight. Built in 2001 on more than 8,000 hectares of land, the palace was conceived by painter Thanh Chuong, who wanted to recreate the cultural mark of his ancestors in his own living space.

Originally, no tickets were required for this attraction, but now an entrance fee is charged for conservation purposes. Additional activities for visitors such as water puppet shows and tea ceremonies have also been organized. A ticket costs VND150,000 or about US$6 per adult and VND120,000 (US$5) per child, minor, person with a disability, or over the age of 65.

 Sunset over Dong Quan Lake, Soc Son District, Hanoi.

Day 2: Noon

After leaving Thanh Chuong's Viet Palace, tourists should stop off at one of the restaurants to sample typical rustic dishes such as hill-grazed chicken, stewed fish from Lake Dong Quan, banh duc or smooth rice flans with peanuts, and river fish steamed, grilled or boiled in a hot pot. Some noteworthy restaurants in the area include Phu Dong, Toan Thang, Vu Nghia, and Huong Tram Eco-garden.

After a hearty lunch, it's time to return to the bustling center of Hanoi.

As an alternative to visiting Soc Son District, travelers can also take a tour of the Ban Rom ecological tourist site, then climb Mount Ham Lon and camp at its foot or around the romantic Dong Do Lake in the area.

 Viet Phu Thanh Chuong in Soc Son District, Hanoi. Photo: Viet Phu Thanh Chuong

 The Viet Phu Thanh Chuong Cultural Complex or Thanh Chuong Viet's Palace is well known to those who love to discover Vietnamese culture and admire the national quintessence.