Over recent years, traditional stilt houses in Tay ethnic
villages have been renovated and upgraded to provide homestay tourism services
for visitors to Ba Be lake in Bac Kan province. Homestay tourism has not only
helped local Tay people to escape poverty but also provides visitors with an
opportunity to explore the best of land, life and indigenous culture around the
A good way to boost locals’ incomes
Taking a boat ride to Pac Ngoi village in Nam Mau commune of Ba Be district,
visitors can admire a picturesque panorama of more than 90 stilt houses leaning
against the mountain.
“Pac Ngoi” in Tay ethnic language means a hundred of arroyos. Elders in the
village say that the Leng river, starting from a mountain range in Bang Phuc
commune, Cho Don district, pours water into Ba Be lake. In the olden days,
people lived in the mountain, after years, the Leng river created alluvium
flats, they moved down from the mountain to establish Pac Ngoi village.
More than ten years ago, Ngon Khanh Toan was the first Pac Ngoi villager to
renovate and remodel his house to provide a homestay service, which attracted a
large number of visitors and brought in a generous source of income. Toan has
set an example for the other 29 households there to follow.
All homestay facilities in the village are wooden houses equipped with the
necessary amenities. The owners of the houses also provide food and drink
service, bike renting, trekking, and art performances for backpackers.
Dong Van Ut struggled to manage his living when he had to live on the income
from farming in the past. Things didn’t improve until 2015 when he got a loan to
expand and upgrade his house for homestay tourism. During daytime, family
members go to the field and do farm work, and return home in the evening to cook
traditional dishes for visitors.
With nine rooms, most of them being booked by foreign tourists, his family can
earn approximately VND100 million a year, and their living conditions have been
The Sang hostel by Dam Thi Mien is one of most-visited homestays in Pac Ngoi
village. Located close to Leng River, the homestay offers a tranquil view over
the river, where children joyfully play with water in the evening and smoke
drifts from houses’ chimneys.
Since 2009, Mien’s hostel has accommodated roughly 500-600 international
tourists annually, generating a net revenue of more than VND100 million. Mien
said that foreigners have also helped her improve her speaking and communication
skills in English.
Further vision to foster tourism
when the darkness of night falls upon the sky, members of the village’s art
troupes dressed in their traditional costumes entertain visitors with beautiful
melodies of folk Then singing, which is accompanied with tunes played on the
Tinh gourd lute. Four art troupes have been set up in the village, with members
being local women.
Hoang Van Chuyen, head of Pac Ngoi village, said that each homestay facility
there can accommodate from 10 to 20 rooms in a total area of around 200 square
metres each. There is no competition in price among the facilities, with prices
set at VND70,000 per person per night.
Over recent years, training courses have opened for villagers, helping visitors
improve their business skills and share experience in bettering their tourist
According to travel agents, the pristine beauty of the natural landscape, superb
indigenous food, and hospitality of locals have attracted foreigners to Pac Ngoi.
Many of them have returned to the village many times, bringing their friends and
family with them.
Many homestay hosts have become aware of the importance of marketing their
products to customers. So far, seven households in Pac Ngoi have run their
marketing programmes on the internet. Dong Van Ut recently invested nearly VND6
million in such a programme. Since his hostel is available in booking.com and
facebook, the number of visitors has increased considerably.
According to Bac Can Provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Tay
ethnic people’s homestays have become a highlight in the province’s ecotourism.
The model has been expanded to neighbouring villages of Bo Lu and Coc Toc.
In a vision to develop sustainable tourism, Back Can provincial authorities have
taken measures to improve the traffic infrastructure, design new adventure tours
to discover Tham Khit and Pham Phay caves, and work out a proper plan for
homestay accommodations in the locality.
Thanks to homestay tourism, ethnic Tay people living around Ba Be lake have been
offered a chance to escape poverty and improve their livelihood, making their
villages become more attractive on the travel map of international visitors.