Located in Cao Phong district, Hoa Binh province, just about 110km north-east of Hanoi center, Thung Nai is a popular destination for weekend retreat of both tourists and upper class Hanoians who can afford the time and cost.
Once upon a time, Thung Nai was a great valley covered by the vast forest, which is home to numerous deer. Hence, the local people call it “Thung Nai” means “the Valley of deer”.
Since the 1980s when the Da River hydropower plant was constructed, Thung Nai has become a huge lake containing the water served for the operation of this hydropower plant. All initial surrounding high mountains become floating green islands and create poetic and magnificent scenery which can enchant any tourist. Thung Nai is called “the second Ha Long Bay on land” in the North of Vietnam (the first position was taken by Tam Coc Bich Dong in Ninh Binh province).
Most tourists traveling to Thung Nai choose the Windmill guesthouse, which is located on Friends Island as an ideal place for a comfortable and relaxing stay. The guesthouse area consists of a large two-storey redbrick house and a windmill offering visitors a breath-taking view of Thung Nai, a stilt house functioning as a communal dinning place, and a tennis court lying in the lush orchard. The Windmill itself is often regarded as an attraction of Thung Nai.
Staying in the Windmill, tourists will be served local specialties like grilled Muong pork, smoked or grilled Da River fish, or fish sour soup, and straw wine. After the dinner, tourists, especially the youngsters often gather for the campfire in front of the guesthouse, and watching the sparkling fishing canoe floating in the lake by night.
Waking up in the morning, tourists can refresh themselves by breathing the fresh air and enjoying the natural beauty in early morning. A boat tour to discover sites around the lake in Thung Nai like Ba Chua Thac Bo temple, Thac Bo grotto (with a lot of stalactite in various shapes), Ngoi Hoa village of Muong people is also a good option. Especially, tourists who luckily come here on Sunday morning can drop by Thac Bo floating market, just 20 minutes by boat from the Windmill, where they can buy fresh fish, shrimp caught by local people.
Best time to visit Thung Nai
Thung Nai is said to be most beautiful in the autumn, when the water level reaches the highest and the valley is filled with the romantic lake water. Try visiting Thung Nai this time to best enjoy the landscape.
How to get there
From Hanoi, tourists can travel to Thung Nai easily by car or motorbike. After riding along the National Highway 6 and reaching Hoa Binh town, turn right and keep riding 20km toward the upstream of Da River then stop at Binh Thanh marina. From here, tourists will get on the boat and begin the trip to discover the beauty of Thung Nai.