Apart from beautiful natural landscapes, Vietnam also has a resourceful culture that every tourist would love to explore. My foreign friend, Alice, recently asked me for some advice on some fascinating things she should notice when going on cultural tours in Vietnam. And I responded: How about travel to Bac Ninh and enjoy quan ho folk songs?

Bac Ninh quan ho singing

What is quan ho?

Quan ho is a unique Vietnamese style of folk music. In the performances, men, and women alternately sing the songs whose lyrics are actually challenges and responses to each other. The songs’ content usually concentrates on love, thus making them extremely emotional.

Quan ho singing style originates from Bac Ninh and it is traditionally performed all year round. Annually, many experienced folk singers gather in the province to celebrate spring festivals during the first days of the Lunar New Year. In many families, these folk songs are passed down on generations so that beautiful rhythms and words are preserved.

Where in Bac Ninh you should visit to enjoy quan ho folk songs

In Bac Ninh, the most well-known village for quan ho folk songs is Diem Xa, or you may call it Diem village. It is situated on the boundary between the two provinces Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, approximately 6 km to the north of Bac Ninh city.  Talking about Diem Xa, most Vietnamese people who are passionate about quan ho all over the country will not be surprised because t is considered as a sacred land where the local residents worship The Queen, the inventor of quan ho.

A trip to Diem Xa would be a good idea for a cultural tour in Vietnam!

The temple of the Queen

The temple of The Queen

How is a tour of Diem Xa village going to be?

Diem village is known for the poetic landscape with green grass stretching along the river banks, and peaceful rice paddy fields. Is it a coincidence or the scenery is really the inspiration for all of the quan ho romantic songs, which initiates the love among couples?

Diem Xa village

The untouched beauty of Diem Xa village

Travel to Diem Xa in spring, and you’ll see how wonderful quan ho singing is. It’s time Diem village Festival/ Queen Festival is held with the participation of a great number of professional quan ho singers. Diem village Festival. Among nearly 50 quan ho villages in Bac Ninh, Diem Xa is the only one that worships The Queen.

The festival is held in 3 days every year to express the respect and gratitude of the villagers to the Queen, who created the quan ho singing. Traditionally, Diem villagers gather around Ngoc well in Cung temple to collect water, then they carry out formal ceremonies.

Here comes the most awaited part of the festival: quan ho folk songs’ performances. The singers get together at the temple of The Queen and sing quan ho songs. All of them are dressed in the traditional costumes that quan ho performers often wear. As if the atmosphere has not been waken up enough, the visitors even sing along quan ho songs. Whenever challenging yet sentimental words are issued from one singer, the audiences express their joyfulness and cheer up the singer who comes up with responses. Joining the festival, you’ll see how incredibly the atmosphere is lit.

One unique thing about quan ho singing in Diem Xa village is that not only the folk songs are sung in the temple of The Queen but they are also sung on Cau River. The performers get on boats and sing, with the audiences excitedly watch from the river banks.

I believe right now you can see why I recommend that my friend enjoy quan ho singing for a cultural tour. In fact, if you plan to travel to Northern Vietnam this holiday, give it a try and you won’t be able to forget!