Hanoi authorities have made plans to tap the tourism potential of its suburban areas, which are home to unique landscapes, handicraft villages, and many valuable relics, said Deputy Director of Hanoi Tourism Department Tran Trung Hieu.
"Hanoi's suburban areas have many advantages that can be incorporated into attractive tours, including famous handicraft villages, monuments and heritage sites," Hieu said.
He stressed that tourist destinations in Hanoi's suburbs need long-term investment. Suburban districts should have regular contact with travel agencies so that their tourist attractions can be included in a tour.
"Localities should pay more attention to environmental protection and install signage, which is also important to attract visitors," Hieu added.
Hieu said his department would help localities create the most favorable conditions for local tourism development by building a system of signposts, standardizing presentations, and providing professional training for staff and local tourism workers.
Hieu cited Thanh Oai District, located 20 kilometers south of Hanoi, as an example of tourism development. The outlying district is known as an ancient land, the birthplace of many famous academics and cultural scholars. The district is home to 51 handicraft villages, many of which have been recognized by the Hanoi People's Committee, such as Chuong conical hat village, Uoc Le chung cake village, Vo Lang sculpture village.
Visitors buy conical hats from Chuong village at the Tourism Fair of traditional craft villages in Thanh Oai District. Photo: Anh Ngoc/ The Hanoi Times
Another example is My Duc District, home to the famous Huong Son (Perfume Pagoda) landscape complex, which attracts millions of visitors every year; many relics and landscapes, such as Quan Son Lake, known as "Ha Long Bay on land", covering 1,500 hectares; Tuy Lai Resort, covering 1,120 hectares with mountains and a number of lakes; and a wealth of handicraft villages such as Tuy Lai Embroidery Commune, Dong My Rattan and Bamboo Village, Te Tieu Puppet Village.
Meanwhile, Son Tay Town, some 40 kilometers northwest of Hanoi, is famous for Duong Lam Ancient Village and a laterite citadel unique in Vietnam. It is possible to set up a "heritage road" and build tours connecting with other eco-resorts in the Son Tay and Ba Vi districts.
"It is worth mentioning that many important monuments are located along the main traffic axes of Hanoi city. Along Thang Long Boulevard, there is Thay Pagoda in Quoc Oai District, Tay Phuong Pagoda in Thach That District, which are all special national monuments.
Along Hanoi's Road No. 32, travelers can visit Dai Phung Communal House in Dan Phuong District, Hat Mon Temple in Phuc Tho District, and relics in the Son Tay area," said Deputy Director Hieu.
Hanoi's outskirts need specific solutions to improve the quality of tourism products in the area, according to experts and tour operators.
Tourists visit Duong Lam Ancient Village in Son Tay Town of Hanoi. Photo: Thanh Nam
In many places in Hanoi, tourism has contributed to creating jobs, transforming the industrial structure, improving people's lives, and promoting the value of historical and cultural heritage sites and handicraft village products. These include Bat Trang Pottery in Gia Lam District, Duong Lam Ancient Village in Son Tay Town, Huong Son Relic Area (Perfume Pagoda) in My Duc District, Hong Van Landscape Creature Village in Thuong Tin District, and Ha Mo Tourist Site in Dan Phuong District.
Nguyen Hai Dang, secretary of the Party Committee of Hong Van Commune in Thuong Tin District, said the locality had renovated homestays, trained guides and locals to welcome guests, and encouraged residents to improve their tourism products so that tourists stay longer.
Vice Chairman of Son Tay Town People's Committee Le Dai Thang stressed that Son Tay always aims to promote the advantages of cultural and historical values, natural conditions and human resources. "Especially if people can participate and benefit from tourism, it will be a condition for its sustainable and high-quality development," Thang said.
Tourism experts emphasized the need to invest in infrastructure and promote community tourism that will link traditional craft villages - tourist attractions - and resorts to tap the tourism potential of Hanoi's suburbs.
UNESCO Travel Club chairman Truong Quoc Hung said craft villages have mainly offered what they have without combining other services. "They have yet to connect with destinations to learn about travelers' needs and tastes, and craft villages lack many new products that appeal to tourists. Nor have they invested adequately in product promotion," he added.