The north of Vietnam is not only famous for its spectacular landscapes but also renowned as an ideal destination for Vietnam culture tour. Located just about 80 km from the city center of Hanoi, Phu Tho Province is undoubtedly a perfect destination for Vietnam group tours.

The province is home to Hung King Temple – the worship place of Hung Kings, who built up the very first foundation of the country. The significant relic welcomes a large amount of both local and foreign tourists around the year, especially in spring. Paying a visit to Phu Tho would offer tourists valuable opportunities to get closer to Vietnamese culture and history.

Gate to Hung King Temple

Gate to Hung King Temple

The spring is the season of festivals in Vietnam. Especially, the Northern part of the country, with thousands of year of history, is the right place for culture lovers to visit. Travelers will get deeper understandings about the traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) of northern people, as well as take part in plenty of interesting traditional games and activities which are suitable for all ages. As the home to many famous cultural sites, Phu Tho is absolutely a perfect choice for North Vietnam group tours.

Hung King Temple

It would be a big regret if you don’t visit the Hung King Temple during your Vietnam group tours. The temple is the worship place of 18 Hung Kings, the first people to found the nation. Vietnamese people call themselves “Descendants of Dragon and Fairy”, basing on the legend about Lac Long Quan and Au Co – a dragon and fairy couple who gave birth to 100 people – the ancestors of Vietnamese people. The first Hung King is said to be the eldest son of Lac Long Quan and Au Co. He followed his mother – Au Co to the highlands and established his own nation called “Van Lang”. The capital was situated in Phong Chau (the southern part of Phu Tho today).

Hung King Temple from above

Hung King Temple from above

Hung Kings are believed to have built the very first foundation of the ancient society in the north. The 10th day of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar, which is the death day of the first Hung King, is chosen to be the national anniversary in honor of their contribution to the country. During this period each year, a large number of people from different parts of Vietnam come to the Temple to celebrate the festival.

The procession on the 10th

The procession on the 10th

The most impressive and important events during the festival are the procession and the incense-offering ceremony. The procession is conducted by people from the local villages, who have to gather in advance to prepare the necessary stuff such as the palanquin, lanterns, food, and flowers. The procession occurs in the morning, followed by the incense-offering ceremony which is carried out at the Upper Temple (Den Thuong). Among the sacrifices, a couple of “Chung Cake” and “Day Cake” representing the Earth and the Sky, five-fruit trays, and specialties from other regions are the must-have items.

Traditional games

Rice-cooking competition

Rice-cooking competition

A cannot-miss activity to do during Vietnam group tours is to participate in the traditional games. And the festival in Hung King Temple is where you can get the first-hand experience in the traditional Vietnamese activities.

“Chung” Cake-making competition

“Chung” Cake-making competition

Though the main festival takes place on the 10th day, the Hung King Temple Festival actually lasts for 4 days, from the 8th to the 11th. Cultural activities are an integral part of this big event. Travelers can watch and even participate in some games and competitions: lion dance – the famous traditional dance in China and Vietnam, wrestling, bamboo swings (“danh du” in Vietnamese), human chess, and rice-cooking competition. Especially, you can learn how to make “Chung cake” and “Day cake” – the must-have items in the daily life of the Vietnamese. The two types of cakes were invented by the 18th Hung King. “Chung Cake” is square and symbolizes the Earth while “Day Cake” is round, hence representing the Sky.

Traditional music

Xoan Singing

Xoan Singing

The North is renowned for its special traditional forms of music such as Quan Ho, Ca Tru, Cheo Singing, and Xoan Singing and Phu Tho is home to the famous Xoan Singing. In Hong Bang Dynasty, Xoan Singing was performed to welcome the New Year. 3 types of Xoan Singing are performed for 3 main purposes: to commemorate the Hung Kings and the guardian gods of each village; pray for abundant crops; and to sing for love. This traditional form of music has been designated by UNESCO as a World Intangible Heritage.

On the whole, for those who are eager to explore the culture of Vietnamese people, Hung King Temple in Phu Tho Province is definitely a perfect destination for your group tours in Vietnam in spring. The high cultural value of this festival will never disappoint you.