Bac Kan


You don’t always have to stick to the tourist trail in Vietnam; simply striking out somewhere for the hell of it can be richly rewarding. Bac Kan province is little visited by tourists, although its main point of interest, Ba Be Lake, attracts those looking for natural beauty outside of Ha Long Bay.

We took a wander through the area recently and savoured the flavour of rural Vietnamese life. Bac Kan is an ethnic and mountainous province — one of the poorest in Vietnam. In fact in 2009 it had the highest poverty rate in the country, with an average monthly per capita income of 669,000 VND.

Most of its income is from agriculture, but this is primarily small scale, household farming, rather than mass commercial production; so although the majority of households grow, breed or collect something, most of this is used for living, rather the for sale.

Corn is widespread, and can be seen hanging everywhere to dry. The corn isn’t eaten but is dried, split into kernels and then either made into paste by the householders to feed their own animals, or sold on. It sells for around 5,000 VND per kilogram.

Ginger is a good crop for the province as it’s easy to grow and can reap good financial reward for traders. The younger roots are often exported to Japan and within Vietnam; as well as being used fresh in cooking, it’s processed for medicinal use or as an instant tea powder.

Na Ri district is famous for its vermicelli — mien — noodles. The canna root that it’s made from is easy to grow and it’s then sold to local manufacturers to produce and package the noodles before they’re sold both in the province and further afield. Profit margins are low and cash flow causes problems for the smaller producers, but the noodles are good quality and in demand for special occasions and Tet.

Most produce, including mien, doesn’t get any further than the local markets. Quantities aren’t usually high enough to attract the interest of large companies further afield and transportation is difficult and expensive.

The market in Bac Kan town is certainly worth a visit in the early morning, as traders and farmers arrive ready to sell their goods.

The market sells all the goods you’ll see at wet markets elsewhere, but sprawls across a large square as well as having inside areas where most of the meat stalls can be found. Be warned — it’s hot and smelly. But the stall holders are full of laughter and smiles for outsiders, who are very few and far between.

Bac Kan town can be reached by bus from Ba Dinh bus station, via Thai Nguyen. Once in the town a few accommodation options are available. Try Thuan Ngo Hotel next to the station, which has clean and large en suite rooms for 250,000 VND to 300,000 VND, not including breakfast. From there take local buses or try to hire a motorbike — but be warned, the roads are bad and distances deceptive. Alternatively, hire a car for a day or so from Hanoi for around 2 million VND for a day trip, or more if you want to stay for a couple of days and travel around.

Popular Destinations

Best Short Day Tours

2
Day
2 DAYS EXPLORE BA BE - CAVES AND LAKE
On this 2 day trip you’ll get to experience the beautiful Ba Be national park. Visit 2 caves, take a relaxing boat ride around the amazing green lake, get sporty if you’d like with...
Price USD $145
Ba Be Lake
35% Discount
4
Day
4 DAYS 3 NIGHTS OASIS CLASSIC CRUISE & BA BE LAKE
Hanoi Bac Kan Halong
Take your time to explore wonderful landscape in Ba Be national park and Ha Long world heritage. You will have chance to learn about Tay ethnic culture and daily local of Tay ethni...
Price USD $485 USD $315
3
Day
Ba Be lake ­ Ban Gioc waterfall group tour 3 days 2 nights
This tour will take you from the vast lakes and chalky karsts of Ba Be National Park to the wild and rugged landscapes of Cao Bang to visit the spectacular Ban Gioc waterfall. You ...
Price USD $215
3
Day
EXPLORE 3 DAYS PACKAGE TOUR BA BE - CAVES, LAKE AND HIKING
On this 3 day trip you’ll get to experience the beautiful Ba Be national park just as in our 2 day itinerary but here you have an additional full day of hiking along the streams an...
Price USD $155 USD $149

Popular tours

Ba Be Lake
35% Discount
4
Day
4 DAYS 3 NIGHTS OASIS CLASSIC CRUISE & BA BE LAKE
Hanoi Bac Kan Halong
Take your time to explore wonderful landscape in Ba Be national park and Ha Long world heritage. You will have chance to learn about Tay ethnic culture and daily local of Tay ethni...
Price USD $485 USD $315
Ban Gioc Waterfall
35% Discount
5
Day
5 DAYS 4 NIGHTS OASIS CLASSIC CRUISE, BA BE & BAN GIOC WATERFALL
Hanoi Bac Kan Halong
Spending your time to explore wonderful landscape in Ba Be national park and Ha Long world heritage. You will have chance to learn about Tay ethnic culture and daily local of Tay ...
Price USD $629 USD $409
Ba Be lake
40% Discount
6
Day
6 DAYS 5 NIGHTS BA BE LAKE & OASIS PARTY CRUISE
Hanoi Bac Kan Halong
6 Days 5 nights Ba Be Lake and Oasis Bay Cruise 5 * will make you have a great time in your trip. Explore wonderful landscape in Ba Be and Ha Long world heritage. Specially, vi...
Price USD $657 USD $394
3
Day
Ba Be lake ­ Ban Gioc waterfall group tour 3 days 2 nights
This tour will take you from the vast lakes and chalky karsts of Ba Be National Park to the wild and rugged landscapes of Cao Bang to visit the spectacular Ban Gioc waterfall. You ...
Price USD $215
3
Day
EXPLORE 3 DAYS PACKAGE TOUR BA BE - CAVES, LAKE AND HIKING
On this 3 day trip you’ll get to experience the beautiful Ba Be national park just as in our 2 day itinerary but here you have an additional full day of hiking along the streams an...
Price USD $155 USD $149
Oasis Bay Cruise 5*
35% Discount
5
Day
5 DAYS 4 NIGHTS OASIS PARTY CRUISE & BAN GIOC WATERFALL
Hanoi Halong Bac Kan
it’s own route away from all the honking and noise from all the other boats bunched up. You will had a great time in your trip with Oasis Bay Party Cruise 5* , join some activitie...
Price USD $570 USD $371