The statue of To Thi on the peak of Vong Phu Mountain
To Thi, or “Lady To,” has been perched atop Vong Phu Mountain for hundreds of years, waiting for her husband to return from war.
The road to Vong Phu, nestled in the remote province of Lang Son near the Chinese border, offers some of the most breathtaking scenery of all northeast Vietnam.
The tortuous 154 kilometers of mountainous road from Hanoi boast the breathtaking vistas that many travelers seek
in Vietnam. Awe-inspiring views of rice terraces creeping down mountains, rivers running through deep valleys and cliffs peaking through the mist are par for the course. Along the road and in the canyons and fields of the lowlands, ethnic minority communities till the land, work their household lumber yards and herd buffalo.
Legend has it that a Lang Son woman who lived centuries ago, To Thi, unwittingly married her long-lost brother. When her husband learned the truth, he volunteered to go to war and never came back. The innocent To Thi carried her baby to the peak of a mountain and waited for her husband. She waited so long that she and her baby eventually turned to stone. And there she still stands, baby on her back, looking out toward the sky in longing. The mountain was later named Vong Phu (waiting for husband).
The natural stone formation was unfortunately destroyed by limestone miners in the early 90s. But locals have since built a replica and placed it at the site. Atop the high peak, all alone, the woman looks lost, abandoned and lonely.
Vong Phu also boasts the picturesque Tam Thanh caves, Nhat Thanh, Nhi Thanh and Tam Thanh.
Inside Tam Thanh, the most famous of the caves, the 15th century Tam Thanh Pagoda and its statue of Amitabha Buddha draw pilgrims from far and wide.
Many travelers also visit Mau Son Mountain known for its cool temperature, generally around 15 degrees, and it’s perfect hiking. The Mau Son Tourist Area offers accommodation and restaurants serving local specialties such as the famous Mau Son wine and homegrown peaches and pears.
Musicians from the Tay and Nung ethnic groups often perform at Mau Son and also invite tourists to take part in local folk games and eat regional specialty dishes. (Reported by Thuy Nhien)