This post was last updated on February 20th, 2020 at 01:07 pm
Lang Son is a city on the border of Vietnam and China. Although Lang Son is no more than a village, it does have city status. It is a thriving village surrounded by the Karst Mountains. More than 80% of the area is covered with mountains and this spectacular terrain provides breathtaking views. The area is mainly inhabited by groups such as the Tho, Nung, Man, and Dzao.
The Beautiful Lang Son
The city was largely destroyed in 1979 by the Chinese. The ruins of the city, together with those of the nearby Dong Dang, can still be seen. Both cities have fortunately been rebuilt and trade between Vietnam and China is again in full swing.
Many travelers only visit Lang Son during their journey from Vietnam to China and see little of the area while it is one of the most beautiful points of Lang Son. Especially since the arrival of a faster road from Hanoi, fewer people have been staying here.
TIP – Close to Lang Son is the most popular border crossing between Vietnam and China. You can read more about this later.
Best Things to Do in Lang Son
The city itself has few sights and the biggest reason that travelers come here is for the beautiful surroundings. People mainly come here to enjoy the rice fields and the surrounding mountains. So you can walk and cycle very well here. Something that is also done a lot.
1. Go to the Lang Son Market
The sights in the city that are worth a visit include the Ky Lua Night Market. You can buy delicious food here for little money. The Lang Son market extends over three blocks, close to P Tran Dang Ninh. It is a colorful and hectic place full of hawkers and stalls selling products and there is an abundance of food stalls, both in the morning and at night.
TIP – You can buy delicious street food here for only 20,000 VND ($0.85).
2. Explore the Caves
Near Lang Son are two famous caves that you can visit; the Nhi Thanh Cave and the Tam Thanh Cave.
Nhi Thanh Cave
The Nhi Thanh cave is about 700 meters from the Tam Thanh cave. At the entrance, you will find poems written by the 18th-century discoverer of the cave, a soldier named Ngo Thi San. There is also a carved stone plaque in memory of an early French resident of Lang Son.
Tam Thanh Cave
Tam Thanh Cave is a huge cave. You will see an indoor swimming pool and a natural “window” with a beautiful view of the surrounding rice fields. If you walk up the stone stairs you will be at the ruins of the Citadel of the Mac dynasty. It is a beautiful, deserted place with a beautiful rural view.
TIP – A combination ticket for both caves costs 20,000 VND ($0.85).
3. Visit the Hill Tribes
In the Lang Son region live different mountain tribes such as the Nung, Tay, Kinh, Dao, Hoa, San Chay, and Hmong. All of these tribes have their own culture and traditions, which sets them apart from the rest. Where in Sapa the mountain tribes already live from tourism, this is not yet the case here.
Try to come here with a bit of awareness. Here too, many tourists leave their mark on the culture, nature, and traditions in the region. Try to be aware of this and respect culture and traditions so that these traditions are also visible to future generations.
4. Explore its Beautiful Landscape
The biggest reason that people come here today is the rugged mountain scenery in the area. North Vietnam is characterized by mountains and these remote areas are a must for travelers who don’t just want to see the famous highlights. The highest mountain in the Lang Son region is the Mau Son with a height of 1,540 meters.
TIP – Check out this website for beautiful tours in the area!
5. Go For a Day Trip to Cao Bang
Cao Bang is located in the northernmost tip of Vietnam on the border with China. The area is surrounded by mountains and due to the cool climate, these mountains can hide behind a thick fog. Something that produces a beautiful image!
Cao Bang itself is located on the banks of the Bang Giang River.
It lies on the route between Ha Giang and Lang Son, but there are few people who make it that far north. Quite strange because Cao Bang is one of the most beautiful regions in Vietnam and definitely worth a visit.
There are small villages and impressive waterfalls in the province, the highlight being the Ban Gioc Falls (see photo below).
TIP – Read more about this place on our page about Cao Bang.
How to Get to Lang Son
Lang Son does not really have a bus station. Buses arrive and depart around the post office. The great thing about Lang Son is that it is only a 3-hour drive from Hanoi. So you can easily go here for a day or two. You can take the bus to and from the following places;
- Cao Bang – 90,000 Dong, 4 hours
- Hanoi – 100,000 Dong, 3 hours
- Mong Cai – 100,000 Dong, 7 hours
Crossing the Border to China
The Friendship Pass at the Dong Dang-Pingxiang border is the most popular border crossing in the north of Vietnam. There are regular minivans between Dong Dang and Lang Son. From Lang Son, you can take a taxi for 140,000 Dong ($6) to Huu Nghi where the border post is located.
The border crossing is open every day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Please note that you must have arranged your visa for China in advance.
Best Time to Visit Lang Son
In Lang Son, there is a clear distinction between the seasons in North Vietnam. There is a sub-tropical climate here with a relatively cold winter that sometimes causes snow to fall on the peaks of Mau Son.
The best time to visit Lang Son is from November to February. The temperature is pleasant and there is a lot less rain than in the summer months. It can get pretty cold.