Possessing diverse natural resources, with great potential to create unique tourism products, over the years, Son La province’s tourism industry has significantly contributed to the local socio-economic development.
Son La province has a tropical monsoon climate, cold and dry winters, hot and humid summers with lots of rain. Due to the mountainous terrain interspersed with valleys and the many hydroelectric reservoirs, Son La's climate is divided into many sub-regions, for example: Cool climate region from 18oC – 21oC which is very suitable for tourism development (Moc Chau plateau, Ta Xua - Bac Yen, Co Ma - Thuan Chau, Ngoc Chien - Muong La); with hot and humid sub-regions such as Ma River, Muong La, and Phu Yen. With a cool climate, in the spring, on the Moc Chau plateau, the hills of tea, apricot blossom, plum blossom, peach blossom and rapeseed flower fields have attracted tourists.
In addition, the terrain of many limestone mountains has created an interesting cave system such as Bat Cave, five caves of Ban On (Moc Chau), Nha Nhung Cave, Chi Day Cave (Yen Chau), Tham Tat Tong Cave (Son La city) and Hua Bo Cave (Muong La). The system of rivers, streams and lakes in the province is very rich and abundant, creating beautiful natural landscapes such as: Dai Yem waterfall (Moc Chau) and Tat Nang waterfall (Chieng Yen, Van Ho). In particular, the Da river system creates a long-standing traditional river culture. After the Son La hydropower plant was formed, it created a hydroelectric lake bed with a length of 150km, an area of about 16,000ha with a great potential for exploitation and development of lakebed tourism. Besides, in the province, there are other lakes with potentials for tourism development such as: Ang village lake (Dong Sang, Moc Chau), Chieng Khoi Lake (Yen Chau), Tien Phong Lake (Mai Son). In addition, Son La also has very rich hot spring resources such as: Hot springs in Mong village, Hua La, Son La city; Muoc Bu hot spring, Ngoc Chien, Muong La.
The province has 12 ethnic groups, of which the majority are Thai, Kinh, Mong and Muong. These are considered unique humanistic tourism resources that can be exploited to form valuable cultural tourism products. Ethnic groups in Son La province are currently preserving in the community cultural values imbued with the identity of the Northwestern region, which have been making a difference in Son La - Northwest tourism products. Currently, many ethnic villages in Son La still retain their traditional cultural and living values. Many ethnic villages have initially developed community eco-tourism models such as: Na Bai, Phu Mau 1 and Phu Mau 2 villages (Chieng Yen commune, Van Ho district); Hua Tat village (Van Ho commune, Van Ho district); Hai, Ca and Bo villages (Chieng An commune, Son La city); Tong and Hum villages (Chieng Xom commune, Son La city); Han 2, Han 4 and Han 5 villages (Muong Do commune, Phu Yen district); Luot village (Ngoc Chien commune, Muong La district); Ka village, Duc village (Chieng Khoang commune, Quynh Nhai district); the center of Hong Ngai commune - Mong ethnic culture associated with A Phu couple's cave (Bac Yen district).
Besides, at present, Son La has many historical-cultural relics and scenic spots ranked at national and provincial levels, including one relic ranked as a special national relic - Son La Prison, it was built by the French colonialists in 1908 on Khau Ca hill, where many Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers were detained. There are also other relics such as: Que Lam Ngu Che Epitaph - King Le Thai Tong (Son La City) Temple; Moc Ly Fort (Moc Chau district); Ky Dai Thuan Chau (where Uncle Ho visited and talked with the Thuan Chau ethnic people); Na San fortress, the monument of Youth Volunteers - Mai Son; Ta Vai Bridge with the feat of Yen Chau female militia shot down the American plane; Bat Cave - Moc Chau; Chi Dat Cave - Yen Chau; and the architectural and artistic relic of Muong Va Tower - Sop Cop.
The ethnic minorities in Son La have many festivals and folk games associated with the seasons of the year. The Thai people have Ban flower festivals in Van Ho and Son La City in the ban flower season in March; Long Tong festival in Chieng Hac commune, Yen Chau district; boat racing festival in Quynh Nhai district. The Mong ethnic group has Nao Song festival (Moc Chau), Tu Su festival (Yen Chau) with many folk games maintained. Every year, on the occasion of September 2 in the town of Moc Chau district, the ethnic culture festival is an occasion for people to gather, celebrate the Independence Day, exchange cultures and promote tourism development.
In terms of cuisine, ethnic minorities in Son La have many special dishes such as: Can wine, Muntjac wine, Pa pinh top (grilled fish), Mo tu Cay (baby chicken soup), smoked meat, bamboo-tube rice lam and sticky rice cake, which are attractive dishes for tourists.
Traditional handicraft products such as pieu scarf of the Thai ethnic group, brocade cloth, cotton and rice cushions, bamboo and rattan objects with unique patterns or colorful costumes of Hmong women are unique products, imbued with cultural identity and potential to build experiential tourism products and meaningful gifts for tourists.
With rich natural and humanistic potentials, Son La province is gradually turning tourism into an important economic sector. Accordingly, the province orients to develop strong product lines such as resort tourism, health care, entertainment and weekends in landscape areas; cultural tourism; sightseeing; ecotourism; community tourism; adventure sports tourism, discovery; spiritual tourism. Maximizing potentials and strengths, Son La tourism industry is calling for investors to visit and explore to find investment opportunities and help Son La tourism to increasingly develop in a sustainable direction.
Source: Vietnam Business Forum