Ethnic minority cultures attract tourists to Lai Chau
Update: Mar 31, 2023
The culture of ethnic communities is what attracts domestic and foreign tourists to Lai Chau province. Preserving it is a big part of the province’s tourism development strategy.

Several traditional festivals and crafts of local ethnic minority groups have been restored and re-organized. (Photo: VOV)

The Lung Tung or "Going to the field” festival is a typical cultural practice of the Thai ethnic people in Than Uyen district. The festival has two parts: a worship ceremony and a celebration.

After the worship ceremony, government officials and villagers go into the fields to perform a plowing and sowing ritual to mark the start of a new farming year and pray for a year of favorable weather and good health. Traditionally the festival is held each year just after Tet, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year holiday. This usually means the sixth to the tenth day of the first lunar month.

To introduce the festival more widely, the Lai Chau administration re-enacts the Lung Tung festival activities in other cultural programs throughout the year.

Nguyen Van Nguyen, a visitor from Bac Ninh province, said that, unlike festivals in delta regions, festivals in mountain provinces are more closely associated with nature and heaven, and each ethnic group has their own activities.

“Bac Ninh also has festivals, but the festivals in Lai Chau are quite different. This is the first time I’ve attended a festival in Than Uyen and I’ve found that the cultural practices of the festival are very different. This trip has been enjoyable because the locals are friendly and easy to get along with, and their lives are very interesting,” said Nguyen.

Gau Tao is a community religious festival of the Mong people, held from the second to the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, to pray for favorable weather and good harvests. In the Mong language, Gau Tao means having outdoor fun. The festival is also known as the “mountain sight-seeing in the spring” festival. When the festival opens, Mong people from far and near gather to play folk games with their distant relatives.

Mua Thi So of Nam Mo hamlet in Than Uyen district said, “It’s fun to participate in the festival, a place for everyone to have fun. It includes a fair. I invite everybody to come to Tà Mung commune’s mountain market at the weekend or at the end of the month.”

According to Sung A Sa, Deputy Chairman of the Ta Mung communal People’s Committee, the Gau Tao festival once faded out, but it was restored and re-organized, to the delight of the people of Than Uyen.

“The restoration of the Gau Tao festival was very important to preserving features of Mong culture like the pan-pipe, flute, lip-zither, leaf-trumpet, and a variety of folk games. Not to mention the embroidery of fabrics with culturally unique patterns,” said A Sa.

In response to Lai Chau province’s efforts to preserve and promote local ethnic culture by combining it with tourism development, Than Uyen district has restored and re-organized four additional festivals.

The Han Khuong festival of the Thai people is held after the harvest in the eleventh lunar month each year. The Kin Pang festival, a Thai festival for adopted children to show their gratitude to their adoptive parents, takes place from the eighth to the tenth day of the third lunar month.

The Thai Xoe Chieng festival is held in the first lunar month to pray for good weather, bumper crops, and good health. And the New Rice festival of the Kho Mu ethnic group is held after each harvest to invite the ancestors to taste the freshly harvested rice.

Tran Quang Chien, Deputy Chairman of Than Uyen district People's Committee, said his locality is building an infrastructure for their cultural institutions to develop tourism. Lai Chau has devised plans and solutions to preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritages, restore and maintain traditional festivals, folk religious rituals, and folk songs and dances, and set up community tourism villages, he said.

“Pursuant to resolutions of the district and province, we’ve restored a number of local ethnic beliefs and cultural practices both to preserve them and to promote community tourism,” said Chien.

The traditional cultural practices and festivals of the local ethnic minorities are attracting more and more tourists to Than Uyen. In 2021, the district welcomed 20,000 visitors. That number increased to nearly 30,000 last year.  

Khac Kien

VOVWORLD - - March 30, 2023