Situated about 120 kilometers from Hanoi City, the Dong Lam Steppe in Huu Lien Commune, Huu Lung District, Lang Son Province is an ideal picnic spot for visitors to the mountainous northern province.
Though the Dong Lam Steppe is regarded as a relatively recent debut on northern Vietnam’s tourist, it’s charming beauty, green cushions of grass, clear blue lake flanked by rocky cliffs have made it a long-time local hangout.
|A panoramic view over the Dong Lam Steppe in the northern province of Lang Son in the floating season. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
The grasslands of the 100-hectare Dong Lam were, at one point, considered to be “Vietnam’s Mongolia.”
At just 120 kilometers north of Hanoi, Dong Lam is relatively easy to get to by motorcycle via National Highway 1A or by car via Hanoi-Lang Son expressway.
The route to Huu Lien Commune is an enchanting two-to-three-hour ride. From there, the steppe is just a short three-kilometer ride.
Hung Vi, a 29-year-old local photographer shared that the beauty of Dong Lam multiplies during the floating season when the steppe is flooded with torrential rains and waters flows down from the hills and cliffs that surround it.
This natural phenomenon usually starts in March, when downpours continuously raise water levels in the grasslands each day.
Over time, the grasslands become completely inundated, with only a few higher areas and huge plants able to escape the floods.
The result is a completely transformed landscape.
|A panoramic view over the Dong Lam Steppe in the northern province of Lang Son in the floating season, often likened to Vietnam's famous Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
Floating season on the Dong Lam Steppe does not last long and relies on weather conditions which force floodwater to recede.
Depending on the weather, it might take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for the water to completely subside.
Therefore, visitors are advised to contact local people to ensure the right time to come for Dong Lam's floating season.
Dong Lam appears as a magnificent ocean during the floating season, with some grassy mounds turning into small islands flanked by pristine limestone mountains. Visitors can sail rafts around the valley to admire Dong Lam.
|The water is so green and pure. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
|Visitors can spend their time on the grasslands enjoying the peace and fresh air. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
|Dong Lam is pristine during the floating season. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
The dry season has its own beauty, too. During the dry season, Dong Lam returns to a steppe, with its surface covered by fresh green grass and herds of horses and buffaloes grazing.
To explore and experience the steppe, visitors often camp, throw BBQ parties, take photos, ride horses, play soccer, and fly kites on the steppe.
|The Dong Lam Steppe is suitable for sightseeing, relaxing, and outdoor parties. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
|Visitors can be immersed in natural landscapes. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
Strolling around the grassland to enjoy the picturesque view and the fresh air is also must-do.
Other important experiences on the Dong Lam Steppe include taking photos with the “conjugal tree” – a landmark that features a tree with intertwining branches – which is located on a bank of a green-water lake so clear that visitors can see fish and vegetation, and as well as riding a kayak in the Nong Dung year-round green water lake.
|Apart from taking photos with the conjugal tree, tourists can go fishing and relax at a year-round green water lake near the steppe. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
|As the tree features two intertwining branches, locals call it 'conjugal' tree, which is attractive to most visitors in the steppe. Photo: Hung Vi / Tuoi Tre|
The area also features numerous gardens filled with seasonal flowers and fruits. Plum blossoms in Dong Lam bloom between late January and late February, immersing the entire steppe in the pure, dreamy whiteness.
Traveling to Dong Lam, visitors can try local delicacies such as Lang Son roasted pig, Lang Son roasted duck, chicken grilled with clausena indica leaves, grilled meat rolls, sausage, black square glutinous rice cake, pumpkin cake, and black jelly.