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Mong ethnic people in Sin Sui Ho hamlet, Lai Chau province, have been developing community-based tourism to leverage its natural beauty and unique cultural values.
The village has become a popular tourist destination in Viet Nam’s northern mountain region.
Sin Sui Ho was recognized as a community-based tourist hamlet in June, 2015. There is a Mong market near the hamlet with many local specialties on sale such as pork, bamboo shoots, sticky rice, corn, cardamom, clothing, and brocade scarves.
Vases of orchids line the way to the hamlet and are placed in front of houses and beneath the trees.
Vang A Lai said, “Mong traditional culture is associated with festivals, dances, and the Jew’s harp. The Jew’s harp is played by both men and women to make friends and find partners.”
As community-based tourism has become more popular, tourists are treated to specialties and traditional dances and songs performed by locals.
Vang A Chinh, head of Sin Sui Ho hamlet, said 6 of the 100 local households are involved in community-based tourism, serving 8-10 tourists a day.
He shared, “My family has become better off and my children can go to school more regularly thanks to incomes from tourism. The provincial People’s Community provided us with training on community-based tourism and now we can do it ourselves. A night in my house costs US$4 per person.”
Le Quang Minh of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism said the life and culture of Mong people are interesting for tourists to discover in addition to their cardamom and orchids, brocade weaving, and souvenirs.
Minh said Lai Chau province was encouraging more Mong people to get involved in community-based tourism.
He noted, “We’ve provided them with cooking utensils and invited experts to teach them food preparation. No taxes have been applied yet. If tourists go to see the waterfall and forest near Sin Sui Ho hamlet, they must pay a 50-cent entrance fee, which goes toward environmental cleanup.”
“We don’t want the Mong ethnic culture in Sin Sui Ho to be spoiled and commercialized,” he added.
People in the hamlet receive preferential loans to develop tourism. The province has invested US$9 million in expanding the road from Lai Chau to make Sin Sui Ho more accessible to tourists.