Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

Chi Lang Passage is a narrow valley between the Bao Dai mountain range in the east and the Cai Kinh range in the west in the northern province. The mountains form two natural barriers. 

Running zigzag along the valley is the Thuong River. Historical accounts show the valley was once regarded as an impenetrable barrier that keep out invaders from the north. King Le Dai Hanh (941-1005) once said the area helped destroy enemies no matter how large and powerful their armies were.

From Hanoi, you can follow National Highway 1A to get to the place. It stretches for around 20 km, with the main sights being Chi Lang and Quang Lang communes in Chi Lang District, Lang Son Province.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

Bai Hao Lake, one of the sights in Chi Lang, is surrounded by undulating mountains.

The Chi Lang Temple is currently being built by the lake as a spiritual and cultural complex to cherish the historical values of Chi Lang.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

One of the curved paths in Chi Lang, about 1 km long, connects Dong Mo Town with the mountain communes of Chi Lang District.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

The train runs through Bac Thuy Bridge in Chi Lang District on the Hanoi – Dong Dang (Lang Son Province) route. The train also connects with Dong Mo and Ban Thi stations in Chi Lang District.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

An aerial view of an eucalyptus forest in Na Lap Village, Van Linh Commune, Chi Lang District.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

The village cultural house next to a golden carpet of rice fields during the harvest season in Van Linh Commune, Chi Lang District.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

About 30 km from the center of Chi Lang District is Khau Sao hill (Khau Slao), a popular destination for visitors. Situated in Suoi Ma A Village, Huu Kien Commune, it is dubbed the ‘Green steppe of Lang Son’.

The hill is 760 meters high and its terrain makes it a strenuous climb. Locals allow their horses and cattle to graze there. There are more than 1,700 horses being raised here, of which nearly 700 are pure white.

Once a barrier against invaders, now a beautiful valley - 7

Horses on Khau Sao hill.

The Tay and Nung ethnic minorities here mainly make a living by raising horses. The abundant grass, clean water and salubrious climate help the horses breed rapidly.

The animals are left completely free. In the morning people bring their horses to the hill and leave them there until afternoon when they are taken to each family’s private area to drink water.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

Custard apples are another Chi Lang specialty. They are grown throughout Chi Lang and the trees are ubiquitous along National Highway 1A.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

One of the most famous places where the fruit is grown in Chi Lang is Dong Banh rock mountain, which is about 200 m tall. The harvest is transported in baskets by pulley from the top to the foot of the hill.

Photo by Bui Vinh Thuan

The custard apples are then delivered over a bamboo bridge by farmers to Dong Banh Market next to National Highway 1A. A lot of them are also sent to markets elsewhere including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

On Sunday the third Chi Lang custard apple festival took place with many promotional activities and tips on growing the fruit. There were competitions between farmers to see who grew the best custard apples.

Photos by Bui Vinh Thuan